Farmers to observe hunger strike on Monday; halt highway toll collection in Hry from Dec 25-27

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New Delhi, Dec 20 (PTI) Intensifying their agitation against the Centre's new agri laws, farmers on Sunday announced that they will observe a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all sites of protest here and halt toll collection on highways in Haryana from December 25 to 27.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting against the laws for the last over four weeks at various border points of Delhi and demanding that the legislations be repealed.

'Farmers will begin a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all sites of protest against the new agri laws. It will be started by a team of 11 members at protests sites here, including the Singhu border,' Swaraj India Chief Yogendra Yadav said and added that 'we appeal to everyone at all protest sites across the nation to participate in the same'.

'Protesters are being threatened by the Haryana government. This is against the direction of the Supreme Court. I urge them to stop harassing farmers from tomorrow,' he said at a press conference at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had said that the farmers agitation should be allowed to continue 'without impediment' and this court will not 'interfere' with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right. It had also put a sole caveat that there should not be any breach of peace either by farmers or police.

While announcing the next move by protesting farmers after their hunger strike, farmer leader Jagjeet Singh Dalewala said farmers will halt toll collection on highways in Haryana from December 25 to 27.

'From December 25 to 27 all toll booths in Haryana will not be allowed by us to collect toll, we will halt them from doing so. On December 27, our prime minister will say his 'Mann ki baat' and we want to appeal to people to beat 'thalis' during his address,' the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader said at the press conference.

The 'Mann Ki Baat' is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly radio address to the nation.

Farmer leader and senior BKU member Rakesh Tikait, who was also part of the press conference, said that farmers protesting the new agri laws will celebrate Kisan Diwas on December 23 and 'we request people to not cook lunch for a day'.

Earlier in the day, the protesting agriculturists paid tributes to farmers who died during the agitation and also lit candles in their memory.

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) also wrote to various traders' unions requesting their support to the ongoing farmers' agitation.

Farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The three farm laws, enacted in September, have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain. PTI AMP GJS GJS ANB ANB