New Delhi: Late night arrests of farmer leaders across several states have prevented the big 23 February 'Parliament gherao' rally in the capital. Lakhs of farmers from several states, including Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, were expected to gather in the capital to highlight their distress.
The big farmer rally in Delhi organised by Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, an umbrella body of 62 farmer unions across the country, was scheduled to hit the capital on Friday. Farmer bodies had planned to halt traffic at all entry/exit points to the capital and had planned to lay a siege to the Parliament.
However by late night on Wednesday, farmer leaders from Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab were reportedly detained and stopped in their tracks. Thousands of farmers are currently under detention in these states.
"We had started our march from Palwal two days ago and had gone through several anaaj mandis to gather support for the rally and to highlight the plight of farmers. On Wednesday evening as we were preparing to leave from Faridabad mandi, police detained me along with 5000 farmers," Shiv Kumar Sharma, popularly known as Kakkaji, told News18 over phone.
Kakkaji is the farmer leader based out of Madhya Pradesh who led protests in areas in and around Mandsaur where six farmers were killed in police retaliatory firing.
Similarly, three former MLAs, including leaders of All India Kisan Sabha, were detained in Jaipur while they were marching towards New Delhi.
The demands by these farmer organisations are primarily two. First, a complete and unconditional loan waiver for all the farmers in the country. Second, to implement the recommendations made by MS Swaminathan Commission report, which BJP had promised in its 2014 general election manifesto and reiterated in its latest budget speech.
During their detention, farmer leaders have called out farmers from across the country to come out in protest in what their leaders are terming an infringement on their rights.
"Through these late night raids, the state has basically strangulated our democractic rights. Did we break any law? Did any of our members get violent on the way? Do we not have right to protest in the capital? The Centre, through these late night raids, has shown how scared it is of us but we won't sit here silently. We have now asked farmers from across the country to come out and protest," said Trilok Gothi, a farmer leader from MP.