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Farmers reject govt assurances, to continue protest at Delhi-UP border

BKU chief Naresh Tikait, however, sad the farmers are "not satisfied" with the government's assurance

Press Trust of India  |  Ghaziabad 

farmer protest at Delhi-UP border
Police and Rapid Action Force personnel try to disperse farmers protesting at Delhi-UP border 

Thousands of farmers held fort at the Delhi-UP border here Tuesday after police stopped their protest march to the capital with several including the security personnel getting injured in sporadic violence, as the protesters refused to go back and rejected the government's assurance to look into their demands.

While the Opposition blamed the Modi government for what they called a "brutal police action" against farmers on way to Rajghat on Gandhi Jayanti for a peaceful protest, the police said it used "minimal force" to disperse the crowd and to maintain law and order in the capital.

The protesters, many of whom said they have come from as far as Haridwar over 200 kms away after a week-long march, appeared ready to stay put at the border with hundreds of tractors and trolleys with food, water, mattresses and even generators parked alongside the roads for over a kilometre of distance.

The protesters, which included women and elderly men as well, tried jumping barricades from to time, prompting the police to use water cannons and tear-gas shells, and kept raising slogans against the government and Narendra Modi.

Police deployed over 3,000 personnel to stop the protesters from crossing over to the capital and check any violence, even as traffic situation turned chaotic in various border areas.

As leaders from opposition parties accused the government of adopting an "anti-farmer" stand by stopping the protesters, the central government went into a huddle to find out ways and an emergency meeting was called under chairmanship of Home

Union of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was rushed to meet the protesting farmers. While some groups agreed to consider the assurances given by the government, others said they were not "satisfied" and decided to continue with their protest, call for which has been given by Kisan Union (BKU) demanding loan waiver, higher support price and steps to safeguard farmers against rising fuel prices, among other demands.

The government said a review petition will be filed against the National Green Tribunal's order to ban diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old and several other measures will be taken to pacify agitating farmers and address their concerns.

The Centre also assured farmers that it would fix the minimum support prices (MSP) of rabi (winter-sown) crops like wheat at least 1.5 times of the production cost. It would also try to restrict imports of agri items that are produced abundant in the country.

Shekhawat said a committee of chief ministers will also look into the farmers' demand, as he sought to assure the protesters that the government will take forward their cause.

"Representatives of farmers along with ministers of UP government Laxmi Narayan and held discussions on a range of issues at Rajnath Singh's residence. After that a consent was reached on some issues. The government has agreed to some of your demands," Shekhawat said.

The minister said he has been associated with farmers' issues and he could say with "certainty" on Lal Bahadur Shastri's birth anniversary that there have been only a few successful agitations like this in the past.

BKU chief Naresh Tikait, however, sad the farmers are "not satisfied" with the government's assurance.

"This has not been a good decision. All important demands have not been accepted and we are not satisfied with this assurance," he said.

The leader, whose father had led a massive farmers' rally in the national capital about three decades ago, said sufficient talks have not been held so far on key issues faced by farmers even as the government has given assurances on some demands.

"But, our main demands of electricity, sugarcane recommendations of Swaminathan report remain as it is. These were among main demands of the farmers," Tikait said.

On the next step, he said, "We are sitting here as of now and this only is our next step."

"We will discuss this and then decide on future course of action. I cannot decide anything alone, our committee will take the decision," he added.

Police officials said seven policemen, including an assistant commissioner, were injured as protesting farmers turned violent while trying to enter the city from in defiance of prohibitory orders, which have been in place since yesterday.

As it drew flak for what the opposition parties termed as "brutal" action against the protesters, the police said it used only "minimum required force" to control the situation.

Police said a section of protesters suddenly turned violent as the cops tried to persuade them not to break the barricades.

Some farmers, riding tractors and trolleys, broke barricades of the UP Police and then started proceeding towards the barricades put up by the Police, a senior police officer said.

Inspector General Meerut Zone Ram Kumar said the UP Police was coordinating with the Delhi Police to ensure there is no law and order situation. Adjoining was also exercising caution with the district magistrate B N Singh saying nothing untoward has been reported there and preventive measures were being taken.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 02 2018. 21:25 IST