A large number of farmers raised slogans and gathered at the Mahapanchayat (meeting) today, on Friday, 5 February at Shamli, Uttar Pradesh inspite of the imposition of Section 144, strictly banning large gatherings till 3 April.
This move by farmers defied the district administration’s orders, who cited the recent Republic Day tractor rally unrest calling it “unruly behaviour by farmers” and flouting of COVID-19 protocols, reported Indian Express.
The Fifth Mahapanchayat At Shamli, UP
The farmers chanted slogans registering their dissent, including ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and sang songs of protest, one of which implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to the farmers, reported NDTV.
The fifth Mahapanchayat was organised by Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and other farmer unions to mobilise support for the ongoing movement as the standoff between the Centre and the protesting farmers continue at the borders of Delhi, over the three farm laws.
RLD spokesperson Sunil Rohta told the Indian Express that the organisers are not deterred, even if the police “open fire on us (the protesters) or put us in jail”.
"144 reasons why I will go to Shamli tomorrow!" - tweeted RLD vice president Jayant Chaudhary on 4 February, allegedly in defiance to the denial of permission.
Speaking to PTI, Chaudhary said, “Strong-arm tactics won't work; government must immediately withdraw farm laws and draft them afresh after taking consent of farmers if they feel reform is needed:".
Other Mahapanchayats In UP
There have been other similar gatherings in different parts of Uttar Pradesh. The Kisan Mahapanchayat in Jind district of Haryana, which had thousands of farmers in attendance on Wednesday, 3 February, unanimously adopted a resolution to revoke the three contentious farm laws in the presence of several prominent farm union leaders, including BKU leader Rakesh Tikait.
After receiving a grand welcome at the Kandela village to address the Mahapanchayat, Tikait warned the government of holding a similar panchayat at ‘India level’ if their demands were not met.
Tikait was accompanied by state Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) President Gurnam Singh Chaduni and Kandela 'khap' (community court) President Tek Ram, the organiser of the Mahapanchayat.
Tikait further announced that a campaign would be carried out in every village in Haryana till 10 February to gather momentum for the agitation.
The Jind Mahapanchayat comes after a similar Mahapanchayat was held at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, which also saw thousands of farmers in attendance from various UP districts.
The standoff between the agitating farmers and the Centre has only intensified after the 26 January violence in Delhi, leading to several FIRs being registered and at least 115 protesters being arrested by the police so far.
The Delhi Police has increased measures at the borders with barbed wires over barricades, nails on the road, and cemented blocks being fixed on the streets, along with increased deployment of personnel, citing precautions, to avoid any untoward incident.
(With inputs from Indian Express and NDTV)
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