Hours after Modi’s assurance, farmers go for hunger strike
Farmer leaders on Saturday stuck to their demands and announced that their representatives will sit on a hunger strike on December 14. A nation-wide strike has also been called on the same day.
The leaders, addressing a press conference in the Singhu border, said that they are ready to hold talks with the government but will discuss about the repealing of the laws first.
Thousands of farmers will kick off their “Delhi Chalo” march with tractors from Rajasthan’s Shahjahanpur through the Jaipur-Delhi Highway at 11 am on Sunday, farmer leader Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu told the media.
He also said that their mothers, sisters and daughters will also join the movement soon, in a bid to make the agitation even ‘bigger’, and arrangements have already been made for their stay at the protest sites.
The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier in the day, said that the new laws will benefit the farmers and the government is committed to their welfare.
During the press conference later in the day, farmer leader Pannu said that farmers from other parts of the country are also on their way to join the protesters at camping at various borders of the national capital.
“If the government wants to hold talks, we are ready, but our main demand will remain the scrapping of the three laws. We will move onto our other demands only after that,” he said.
The union leaders also said that their representatives will sit on a hunger strike between 8 am and 5 pm on December 14.
Pannu alleged that the government tried to weaken their agitation, but that the protesting farmers did not let that happen. The farmer leader vowed to keep the protest peaceful.
“The government tried to weaken our agitation by dividing us (various farmer unions). I want to say that the ongoing agitation is fully under control of 32 farmer unions. We will fail every government attempt to divide us,” he added.
The government had on Friday asked the protesting farmers to be vigilant against their platform being misused, saying some “antisocial” as well as “Leftist and Maoist” elements were conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the agitation which has been going on for over two weeks now.
“We do not know about the presence of anti-social elements in our agitation. The government is trying to distract the farmers. By saying all this, it is trying to malign our movement. And if it thinks there are any such elements in our protests, it should catch them. We have not stopped the government,” BKU leader Rakesh Tikait told PTI
Photographs of some protesters at the Tikri border seen holding posters demanding the release of activists arrested under various charges had gone viral, prompting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to say that these “antisocial elements” are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants’ movement under the guise of farmers.