Rousing speeches and slogans reverberated through the air at Tikri border, one of the protest sites against the Centre's new farm laws, where farmers observed 'Bharat Bandh' on Tuesday. Chants of 'Jai kisan', 'Humara bhaichara zindabad, Kisan ekta zindabad, tanashahi nahi chalegi', could be heard loud and clear as over 2,000 farmers shouted in unison Flags of different farmers unions were planted sporadically across the venue. The national flag was raised in the centre from where the leaders delivered their speeches.
Calling on his farmer brothers, a BKU leader said, "This is the last leg of our 'andolan' and it is important that we remain disciplined to make our protest successful." As farmers sat on the ground listening to his speech, the leader added, "It is unfortunate that today in our country, if someone raises their voice and talks about the good of the country, they are termed anti-national (desh drohi)" Although the farmers had requested that shops remain closed in support of Bharat Bandh, almost all shops in the vicinity of the protest site were open. However, there wasn't any incidence of violence.
"I have kept my shop open so that the farmers can get whatever they need. I wholeheartedly support the farmers protest," said Anil Kumar, who runs a departmental store in Baba Azad colony located adjacent to the protest site. With the farmers in the centre, the police has created a multi-layered barricading around them to prevent any possibility of the bandh turning chaotic. "Although we don't expect the protest to turn violent, we are prepared. We have deployed enough force," a Delhi police official said.
Tikri is one of the border points of Delhi where thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting against the three contentious farm laws of the past 13 days. The farm laws enacted in September have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain.