Farmers observed ‘black day’ to mark the completion of six months of agitation

News Desk: Farmers took out protest marches and raised anti-government slogans in Delhi, Punjab on Wednesday as the protesters observed ‘black day’ to mark the completion of six months of agitation against the three Central agri laws.

Joining the call given by farmers’ unions against the Centre’s three contentious farm laws, farmers at several places in Punjab put up black flags atop their houses on Wednesday.

Farmers on Wednesday put up black flags and burnt effigies of government leaders at Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri in New Delhi to register their protest against the three laws as well as the Centre.

Senior farmer leader Avtar Singh Mehma said black flags have been hoisted not only at the protest sites but also in villages in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, adding that villagers have put up black flags atop their houses as well as on their vehicles.

“Effigies of government leaders were burnt. This day is to reiterate the fact that it has been six months since we have been protesting, but the government, which also completes seven years in office today, is not listening to us,” said Mehma. All those in solidarity with their movement also donned black turbans and dupattas.

Ruckus at Delhi protest site

Police force has been in place at all the borders points, including the protest sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, since Tuesday.

At Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, hundreds of farmers, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, converged into groups as they burnt an effigy of the Centre in protest.

A ruckus briefly broke out between protesters and the police, donning anti-riot gears, who had tried to stop them from burning the effigy at the UP Gate below the Delhi-Meerut Expressway.

While many BKU supporters held black flags in their hands, several others had placards that condemned the government and demanded the withdrawal of the contentious laws, even as Covid-19 protocols on social distancing and face masks were largely amiss at the site.

Tikait, who has been leading the protest at Ghazipur since November 2020 and had become a prominent face of the protest after the January 26 violence in Delhi, was also seen sporting a black-colour turban and a black flag.

The influential BKU spokesperson from western Uttar Pradesh was credited with reviving the protest that had lost sheen after the January 26 violence with his emotional pull that overnight drew support for the farmers on Delhi’s outskirts.

What about Covid norms?

On Tuesday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had issued notices to Delhi, UP, Haryana on alleged flouting of Covid norms by the protesting farmers.

The Delhi Police too had urged people not to hold gatherings due to the Covid-19 situation and the ongoing lockdown and said it is keeping a tight vigil to deal with any situation at the protest sites.

Farmer leader Mehma said the government shouldn’t have introduced the three laws during the pandemic in the first place. “If the government wants us to go back then it should listen to us and repeal the laws, because we are not going anywhere unless our demands are met.

“It is not our hobby to sit in the heat and the cold at the borders. We also want to go back home and be safe,” the farmer leader said.

Black flag atop houses to mark 6 months of protest

Punjab farmers hoisted black flags atop their houses on Wednesday. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal also raised a black flag at his house in Badal village in Muktsar district.

Several political parties, including the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party earlier extended their support to the farmers’ call of observing the day as ‘black day’.

At some places in Punjab, farmers also took out a protest march carrying black flags and raising slogans against the Union government.

Similar protests were also reported from a few places in neighbouring Haryana. “Six months have passed since the farmers’ protest at Delhi borders against the three farm legislations began,” said Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher, slamming the Central government for not scrapping the legislations.

Why are farmers observing ‘Black Day’?

Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of protesting unions, had announced that farmers will observe May 26 as ‘black day’ to mark the completion of six months of their protest.

Farmers have been camping at Delhi’s borders since November last year demanding that the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 be rolled back and a new law made to guarantee minimum support price for crops.

However, the government has maintained the laws are pro-farmer.

Several rounds of talks between farmers and the government have failed to break the deadlock over the three Central legislations.

A government panel met farmer leaders on January 22. There have been no talks between the two sides since January 26 when the farmers’ tractor rally in the national capital turned violent.