New Delhi, Jul 22 (PTI) Farmers protesting the three contentious agriculture laws began their agitation at central Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Thursday amid heavy security and held a 'Kisan Sansad' at the spot close to the parliament building where the Monsoon Session is underway.
The idea behind organising the 'Kisan Sansad' was to show that the agitation is still alive despite 'losing 600 people of our own', farmer leaders said.
A group of 200 farmers, wearing identification badges and with flags of their unions in hand, held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar demanding scrapping of the contentious farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price.
It is planned that every day a group of 200 farmers will hold agitation at Jantar Mantar till the end of the Monsoon Session on August 13. Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has, however, given farmers permission to hold protests at the site till August 9.
Union minister and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi has termed the protesting farm unions as 'mawali' (ruffian) after being asked to comment about a cameraperson of a leading hindi news channel getting injured in an attack by a freelance journalist at the protest site in Jantar Mantar.
Addressing protestors at the 'Kisan Sansad' on Thursday, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait sent out a strong message to the parliamentarians, saying the farmers know how to suppress the voice of those who do not raise their issues in Parliament and warned of protests against the MPs.
Tikait said farmers will protest against MPs, be it of the ruling party or the opposition, in their constituency if they failed to raise their issues in Parliament.
'This is the world's first parliament that is functioning within barricades and has been started by farmers. 'Kisan Sansad' will go on till Parliament is in session and you (government) will have to accede to our demands,' he said.
Tikait said they will pass a motion at the 'Kisan Sansad' on the cancellation of the three contentious farm laws.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers unions, which has been spreading the protest, said it was a 'historic day' and the 'Kisan Sansad' was completely peaceful.
On Thursday, the farmers travelled to Jantar Mantar from their Singhu border protest site in buses with a police escort. The protest was to start at 11 am, but the farmers reached the venue only by 12:25 pm.
Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said police stopped them at three places en route and their Aadhaar cards were checked. Upon reaching Jantar Mantar, farmers raised slogans demanding the government scrap the three laws.
Police have thrown a ring of security around central Delhi in view of the protest and kept a tight vigil on the movement of vehicles. Adequate security arrangements have been made, and both police and paramilitary personnel have deployed, police officials said.
A senior police officer said around 5,000 security personnel have been deployed across the New Delhi district. Four companies of paramilitary force have been deployed in and around Jantar Mantar, an official said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said, 'Several companies of CRPF and RAF have been deployed at the Jantar Mantar. CCTV cameras have also been placed in the area.' Barricades along with metal detectors have been placed on either side of the Jantar Mantar and two water cannons have also been stationed, officials said.
This is the first time since the violence in the national capital during a tractor rally on January 26 that the authorities have granted permission to the protesting farmer unions to hold a demonstration in the city.
Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said after the Republic Day incident, the farmers this time decided to make the gathering small. 'Neither we nor the government were comfortable with a large gathering,' he told PTI.
The SKM has been asked to give an undertaking that all COVID-19 norms would be followed and the stir would be peaceful at Jantar Mantar.
The umbrella body of farmer unions has accused the Delhi Police of trying to prevent media from covering the 'Kisan Sansad' proceedings and barricaded them far away from the location where the farmers were holding the site.
'The participants in the Kisan Sansad raised several points about the unconstitutional nature of the (farm laws), the undemocratic processes by which the Government of India brought them in and the serious implications that the laws will have on livelihoods. APMC Bypass Act was discussed in detail.
They (farmers) showcased their deep knowledge of this black law and why they are insistent on a full repeal and nothing less than that,' a statement said.
Kakka said the 'Kisan Sansad' will also discuss the '42 anti-farmer laws' brought by the central government in the last seven years. 'We will also pass a resolution declaring that (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi is anti-farmer,' he said.
Thousands of farmers from across the country have been agitating at three Delhi border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur -- against the three farm laws that they claim will do away with the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
Over 10 rounds of talks with the government, which has been projecting the laws at major agricultural reforms, have failed to break the deadlock between the two sides. PTI GVS/NIT AMP SLB KR BUN BUN NSD NSD