Uttar Pradesh state authorities are calling for Ghazipur camp to be cleaned up, but farmers say they will not budge.
Farmers at major protest sites on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi are rebelling as authorities demand an end to their months-long sit-in against new farm laws following violence in the city.
Authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is neighboring the capital, on Thursday called for cleaning up one camp in particular – the Ghazipur camp. But the farmers said they would not budge.
“Even if the police come, we will stay here, peacefully, until the laws are repealed,” Bhagwant Singh, 53, a farmer from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, told AFP news agency on the site.
– ANI (@ANI) January 29, 2021
Indian media reported on Friday morning that hundreds of farmers remained at the Ghazipur border overnight, while others from neighboring districts are expected to join them later in the day.
On Thursday evening, peasant leader Rakesh Tikait made an emotional appeal to the nation to support his protest and said he was “ready to face bullets” if necessary.
Police sealed the border between Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, while two key borders where farmers protest – Singhu, the epicenter of the two-month protests, and Tikri – have been placed under tight security.
Tensions were high at the Singhu camp with many protesters carrying a stick, sword or ax – and even huge ladles used in giant cooking pots in the camp’s kitchens – while regular announcements on an announcement system publicity in Punjabi told people to stay awake and alert.
Police orders to close Ghazipur camp came after thousands of farmers on tractors rampaged in Delhi on Republic Day on Tuesday, leaving one person dead and at least 400 injured.
A day later, farmers’ unions canceled next week’s march to parliament on February 1, the day the government will unveil its annual budget, though nationwide rallies are still scheduled for Sunday.
Two roads blocked by protesters for weeks were cleared Wednesday evening as two of the 42 unions representing farmers withdrew from the protest, each blaming other groups for Tuesday’s events.
“I’m so ashamed and sad [Tuesday] that I announce the end of our 58 day protest sit-in [Delhi] border, ”union leader Bhanu Pratap Singh said on Wednesday.
Delhi police reported a hard line, saying they were studying images and using facial recognition technology to identify and arrest those involved in the violence.
Police commissioner SN Shrivastava said on Wednesday that farmers’ unions, having pledged that Tuesday’s tractor rallies would follow agreed routes, had “stabbed authorities in the back”.
“It was a little problem. The government planned it and changed the direction of our tractor march, and they intentionally directed us towards the city center, ”Baljinder Singh, 32, from Punjab state, told AFP on Wednesday. in the north of the country.
Twitter also suspended several hundred accounts, most of them outside India, which shared “bogus and inflammatory” reports to incite religious or regional violence around the protest, Shrivastava said.
Agriculture has long been a political minefield, with almost 70 percent of the 1.3 billion population earning their livelihood from agriculture.
The government says the industry is incredibly inefficient and needs reform. But protesters fear the new laws deregulating the industry will leave them at the mercy of big business.