In what amounts to a grave violation of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and norms, thousands of protesting farmers gathered in the Tohana district in Haryana on Saturday. More than 2000 farmers have gathered at the location with over 2400 personnel deployed to maintain the law and order situation there.
Their two demands are to free Vikas Sinwar and Ravi Azad, protesting farmers who were arrested on June 2 by Tohana Sadar police, and to get Tohana JJP MLA Devendra Bubli arrested owing to his anti-farmer stand.
Farmer politicians Rakesh Tikait, Yogendra Yadav, Gurnaam Singh Chaduni and others are set to go to the Tohana police station to surrender shortly and mark the day as a "black day".
Visuals from the gathering in Tohana shows a massive gathering, with a huge shed for the occasion being filled from end to end with people. What is apparent, and scarily so, is that there is no visible use of masks, and certainly no social distancing.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since 2020 in what has become an almost 7 months-long stand-off with the Centre. The farmers continue to protest against farm reforms and little headway has been made despite a dozen rounds of talks between the 30-odd farmer unions and BJP-led Central government, as well as the efforts of a Supreme Court-appointed committee that has consulted the farm groups and tabled a report.
What's more, the farmers have steadfastly refused to shelve their protests in face of the second COVID wave, with their assorted plans to mark 'black days' being opposed by healthcare professionals and the people of NCR as potential 'super spreaders'. In Tohana, this fear appears to been realised, as assembled enraged farmers were seen flouting COVID-19 norms with no concept of social distancing or even donning requisite masks.
Ten of thousands of farmers have been protesting demanding repeal of the three contentious farm laws. While pro-reform economists have largely welcomed the legislation, stating it would improve farmers income and attract tech and investments, farmer unions dread the statutes for being exploitative and unfair.
The countless farmers in Tohana have gathered in the area and announced to observe today (June 5) as the 'Sampoorna Kranti Diwas' against the farm legislations.
In a statement, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said, "On June 5 last year, the three anti-farmer and anti-people agricultural laws were brought by the central government as ordinances. The SKM will observe 'Sampoorna Kranti Diwas' on June 5 and burn copies of agricultural laws outside the offices and homes of leaders of the BJP and allied parties, In the absence of these leaders, copies of laws will be burnt in front of administrative offices. This protest will be completely peaceful."
The Lok Sabha had passed The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmer's (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. These bills were introduced by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to replace three ordinances promulgated on June 5. As per the Centre, The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was amended to ensure that the farmers get a good price on many commodities.