April 1, 2023

Farmers’ protest 2.0? Lakhimpur Kheri to be a new battleground to push for pending demands from January 21 | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: A month after suspending its agitation and leaving permanent protest sites along the Delhi border, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – joint platform of farmer unions that protested against three central farm laws – on Saturday decided to relaunch its protest from Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh on January 21 and take it forward in poll-bound states as ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh and ‘Mission Uttarakhand’ with a call for a vote against BJP beginning February 1.
The focus of the farmers’ renewed protest will be on demanding fulfilment of their pending issues including withdrawal of cases against farmers, compensation to kin of those who died during protests and action against junior home minister Ajay Mishra in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident which saw the killing of eight persons including four farmers and a journalist in October last year.
The SKM will put up a permanent ‘morcha’ (protest site) in Lakhimpur Kheri to take forward its goal of ‘Mission UP’ which will follow the models adopted by it in West Bengal where they appealed to voters “not to vote BJP” (call for vote ki chot) without saying whom to vote last year.
The farmers’ protest 2.0 will take its first major step on the ground on January 31 by observing ‘Day of Betrayal’ in the form of demonstrations at district and block levels across the country. These decisions were taken in a meeting of SKM at Singhu Border on Saturday. The meeting was called to review the progress on the government’s promises to farmer unions that led to the end of the year-long protest on December 10 last year.
“The Centre has, so far, neither formed a committee on minimum support price (MSP) issue nor approached us on it. No action has been taken by the central as well as state governments in Madhya Pradesh, UP, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on the promise of immediate withdrawal of the cases against farmers. The government hasn’t removed Ajay Mishra from the Union cabinet despite the conspiracy being acknowledged in the SIT report,” said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait).
He said, “The government has betrayed the farmers and that’s why we’ll observe ‘Day of Betrayal’ on January 31 across the country.” The SKM will decide the template of protests in the next few days after visits of farmer leaders, led by BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, to Lakhimpur Kheri and other parts of UP as a preparation for the ‘Mission UP’.
“We will visit Lakhimpur Kheri for 3-4 days from January 21 and meet the affected farmers’ families. We will discuss and form a strategy on the further course of action of our agitation,” said Rakesh Tikait.
The SKM’s meeting on Saturday was not attended by leaders of those unions which decided to contest Assembly elections in Punjab by forming Sanyukt Samaj Morcha. “Those unions are no longer part of the SKM. Any farmer organization or leader associated with our Morcha, contesting elections or playing a key role for any party in the election, will not remain in the SKM. If needed, this decision will be reviewed in the month of April after these Assembly elections,” said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, leader of BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan).
The Morcha in its meeting also decided to endorse and support the two-day nationwide strike announced by trade unions on February 23-24. The central trade unions of the country have called for a nationwide strike on issues like demanding withdrawal of four labour codes and MSP guarantee to farmers. The trade unions are also against the privatization of public sector undertakings/banks.
On the issue of withdrawal of cases and compensation to kin of farmers who died during agitation, the farmer leaders said that though the Haryana government has done some paperwork, the other state governments and Indian railways have not done anything on what the Centre had promised us.
“The UP government has not initiated any action on giving compensation to the martyred farmers’ families. No announcement has been made by the Haryana government regarding the amount and nature of compensation. On the issue of MSP, the government has neither announced the formation of the committee nor has given any information about the nature of the committee and its mandate,” said the SKM in a statement.

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