Govt fails to pacify farmers, protest likely to continue2 min read . Updated: 02 Oct 2018, 10:29 PM IST
Farmersclash with police on Delhi-UP border, stopped from entering national capital
New Delhi: Thousands of angry farmers who had descended on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Monday night, clashed with police on Tuesday when they were stopped from entering the national capital at Ghazipur.
Police used water cannons and fired tear-gas shells to stop the protesters, injuring some of them.
This was the latest in a series of rallies by the community to demand better crop prices and loan waivers, among other things, and protest against the policies of the Union government.
The farmers, led by the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), began their march at Haridwar in Uttarakhand on 23 September and planned to reach Delhi’s Kisan Ghat on 2 October.
The protesters reached the Delhi border on Monday night but were stopped from proceeding further.
During the day on Tuesday, BKU leaders met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and junior agriculture minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to present their demands but this failed to end the standoff.
“We are yet to take a decision on whether to call off the protest. The government has not agreed to some of our main demands, which have financial implications," said Yudhvir Singh, a senior leader of BKU.
“Protesting farmers are keen to come to Delhi and they are angry about the police atrocities," said BKU spokesperson Dharmendra Malik.
The major demands of the farmers include ensuring support prices for all crops, as well as horticulture produce and milk, an unconditional loan waiver, minimum guaranteed income for farmers, monthly pension for elderly farmers, and removing the ban on diesel tractors that are more than 10 years old in the national capital region.
The agriculture ministry said that, following a meeting with farmer leaders the centre has agreed to file a review petition before the National Green Tribunal to waive the ban on diesel tractors for farmers. The centre will also raise the issue of bringing the goods and services tax rate on farm implements under the 5% category in the next council meeting, it said.
The ministry said the government will take measures to stop imports of those crops that have surplus domestic production. It said a committee will be set up to examine the problems faced by farmers under the crop insurance and Kisan Credit Card schemes.
Opposition parties criticized the government’s move to crack down on farmers and not allow them to enter Delhi. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party began Gandhi Jayanti celebrations on International Day of Non-Violence by beating up farmers. “Now farmers cannot come to the country’s capital to share their pain," Gandhi said on his Twitter handle.
The Delhi Police defended the use of water cannons and tear-gas shells on the protesters, saying the farmers were planning to enter Delhi in tractor trolleys which is not allowed, and that some protesters turned violent by breaking barricades with their tractors. “Only the minimum required force was used to contain these violent and aggressive protesters," said a police official release.