Farmers take out tractor rallies in Punjab, Haryana and UP

Chandigarh/Lucknow: Farmers took out tractor rallies at several places in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh and burnt effigies, demanding the agriculture sector be taken out of the WTO agreement.

In Uttar Pradesh, the rallies led to disruption in traffic at many places and farmers also burnt effigies representing the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which is holding its 13th ministerial conference, a meeting of its highest decision-making body, in the UAE.

On the call of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of several farm unions that spearheaded the 2020-21 farmers’ stir, protesters parked their tractors along the highways at many places in Punjab and Haryana.

Effigies representing the WTO were also burnt at Khanauri and Shambhu points on Punjab’s border with Haryana where thousands of farmers have been camping after their march to Delhi, led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), was halted by security forces.

Farmer leaders claimed the WTO’s objective was to end farm subsidies and if India followed it, that would be “suicidal”.

In western Uttar Pradesh, protests by farmers with tractors and by burning effigies representing WTO following a call given by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), disrupted vehicular traffic, which could resume only in the afternoon.

BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait alleged the Union government was ignoring the genuine demands of farmers and condemned the “atrocities” against farmers camping on the Punjab-Haryana border points to press the Centre for various demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

In UP’s Muzaffarnagar district, a tractor march by farmers on a highway disrupted traffic in many places. They also blocked the left lane of the Delhi-Dehradun national highway.

The protesters parked their tractors at Bhuraheri under the Purkaji police station area, Bhangela under the Khatauli police station area, Mansoorpur intersection and Rampur Tiraha under the Chhapar police station area.

BKU workers and farmers parked their tractors on National Highway 58 in Meerut causing jam on the road. An effigy representing the WTO was also burnt there. During this, BKU district president Anurag Chaudhary had a heated exchange of words with officials.

The BKU workers held a meeting under the chairmanship of Madanpal Yadav during which the office bearers called for marching to Delhi on March 14.

In Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, farmers parked their tractors at several locations including the Jalandhar-Jammu National Highway. Led by Doaba Kisan Committee’s state president Jangveer Singh Chauhan, farmers also parked their tractors on a road at Bijli Ghar Chowk in Tanda.

Addressing a gathering, Chauhan criticised World Trade Organization (WTO) policies, calling those “anti-farmers”.

Members of several other farm outfits such as Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal), BKU (Qadian), BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) also held demonstrations and parked their tractors on Hoshiarpur-Phagwara Road, Nasrala-Taragarh Road, Dosarka-Fatehpur Road, Bullowal-Allowal Road and Bhunga-Hariana Road.

The protesters also demanded legal guarantees for MSP, debt waiver, implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations and pension for farmers.

In Amritsar, farmers parked their vehicles along the highways in Ajnala, Jandiala Guru, Rayya and Beas. In Ludhiana, farmers owing allegiance to the SKM, parked their tractors along the highway on Ludhiana-Chandigarh road to register their protest against the WTO.

In Haryana’s Hisar, farmers held protests at 50 locations by parking their tractors along the state and national highways.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) state vice president Shamsher Singh Nambardar said the demonstrations were held at places including Surewala Chowk, Mayyar Toll, Chaudhariwas, Bagla Mor, Badopatti and Bas Toll.

He claimed that the government was not giving MSP on all crops because of WTO policies.