Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat: Farmers call for Bharat Bandh on September 27
At the "Kisan Mahapanchayat" in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, protesting farmers resolved to intensify their protest against the Centre's controversial farm laws. Multiple speakers at the Mahapanchayat reiterated their vow to continue the protests against the farm laws. Samyukta Kisan Morcha, who organized the Mahapachayat, issued a call for a "Bharat Bandh" or general strike on September 27. Here are more details.
The Mahapanchayat was attended by farmers of different states like UP, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, etc. The SKM—which is spearheading the protests against farm laws—maintained that the "Mahapanchayat" will prove the agitation has the support of "all castes, religions, states, classes, small traders, and all sections of the society." The Mahapanchayat will make the Yogi-Modi governments realize the power of farmers, the SKM asserted.
Appealing farmers to intensify their protest, the speakers at the Mahapanchayat said, "They (the Centre) said only a handful of farmers are protesting. Let them see how few are protesting. Let us raise our voices so it reaches the ears of those sitting in Parliament."
Rashtriya Lok Dal's Jayant Chaudhary, who attended the Mahapanchayat, said the administration did not permit to shower flower petals from a helicopter over the gathering. "We wanted to salute and welcome...people by showering flowers on them. DM, ADG, City Magistrate, Principal Secretary, CM—everyone was informed, but they are not giving permission! What is the danger to the government with respect to farmers?" Chaudhury tweeted.
Meanwhile, 32 farmer unions from Punjab have demanded the state government to withdraw cases against agitators by September 8. They also added that if the government doesn't withdraw cases within September 8 deadline, they will prepare a roadmap for a bigger protest.
Meanwhile, the UP government made tight security arrangements ahead of the Kisan Mahapanchayat. This includes the deployment of six companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), two of Rapid Action Force, 1,200 policemen; and ten companies of paramilitary forces, and 4,000 police personnel. For aerial surveillance, the district administration has deployed drones. Liquor shops in Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, and Baghpat districts have been closed.
Separately, over 500 langars are operating in Muzaffarnagar and surrounding areas. Organizers have also booked 20 banquet halls for those coming from outside. Nearly 100 medical camps and 50 ambulances and a temporary hospital have also been set up to address any medical emergency.
It has been nine months since the farmers of north India launched their protest against contentious three farm laws passed last year. The farmers are mainly demanding the repeal of the farm laws which they think will take away the minimum support price for their crops. Despite several rounds of talks between the Centre and farmer leaders, consensus remains far-fetched.