With farmer unions observing ‘black day’ on Wednesday on completion of six months of their stir against the Centre’s agri laws, the Delhi Police has urged people not to hold gatherings due to the COVID situation and the ongoing lockdown and said it is keeping a tight vigil to deal with any situation at the protest sites on the city’s borders. Action will be taken against those who try to take the law into their hands, Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal said, adding that the force is already present at all borders points, including the protest sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, and will not allow any illegal activity or entry.
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. Last week, twelve major opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left parties, SP, NCP and DMK had extended their support to the protest.
In the wake of the SKM’s announcement, the Delhi Police on Tuesday urged the people to follow COVID guidelines and not to come out of their houses and gather unnecessarily due to the ongoing coronavirus situation in the national capital. “In last over one month, we have witnessed a severe situation in the national capital due to the coronavirus in which several people lost their lives. Police and administration took several steps to control the situation.
“With the help of people, the lockdown was successfully followed in Delhi due to which the situation is gradually getting better in the national capital," he said. Biswal said, “We urge people not to gather as the virus could spread and the cases escalate. We appeal to the citizens to observe COVID- appropriate behaviour and lockdown which is still imposed in the city. There is no permission of gathering and demonstration due to the ongoing situation".
According to a statement released by the Samkyukt Kissan Morch on Tuesday, this farmer’s movement “is running on truth and non-violence and will be completing six months of its historical struggle on Wednesday". “SKM requests all Indians to celebrate and mark Buddha Poornima tomorrow, so that truth and non-violence find a strong place back in our community, at a time when attempts are being made to erode these basic values in our society," the statement said.
The Delhi High Court refused to look into the issue of proposed march by farmers into the national capital on Wednesday (May 26) as it marks six months of their protest against the new farm laws. An oral mention was made to stop farmers from moving towards Delhi borders and directions for the police to enforce COVID guidelines so that the event does not turn into super spreader.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said the issue concerning farmers protest was being looked into by the Supreme Court and the high court will not examine it. The matter was mentioned before the bench when it sat for hearing pleas concerning COVID-19 issues.
Advocates Dhananajay Grover and Praveen Sharma submitted that around one lakh farmers have arrived in Delhi and more are coming to participate in the protest scheduled for Wednesday and if it is not stopped, the site will become a super spreader of COVID-19 infection. They said there could be roadblocks and oxygen supply could be disrupted and sought directions to the Delhi Police and Centre to stop farmers from coming here and holding the protest.
The court, however, declined to entertain the prayer and observed that oxygen supply is going on. As May 26 marks six months since the farmers protest began in November last year against the Central government’s controversial farm laws and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has given a call to the farmers to march to the capital.
“Tomorrow, May 26 will mark six months of farmer protests. Harvest season is over. BKU and farmer unions are coming to Delhi," the counsel said, adding that there is a need to look at preparedness in facing potential issues that could arise due to the march. Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for last six months against the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments over allegations of flouting of COVID safety norms by farmers protesting at the borders against the farm laws. It has asked them to file within four weeks action taken reports regarding the steps taken to control the spread of COVID-19 infection at the protest sites.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the NHRC said that India is reeling under a “scary" second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and these protesters are not only putting their lives in danger but also posing a risk to the others in rural areas as “potential carriers" of the virus. “The complainant has also stated that more than 300 farmers have died during this ongoing protests due to several reasons, including COVID infection. The cases of black fungus, etc, are also rising.
“He has sought the intervention of the Commission apprehending that situation may become more worrisome as the farmers, in large numbers, are planning for observing May 26, 2021 as ‘Black Day,'" the rights panel said. On Tuesday, SKM also appealed to all citizens to mark the black day’ by hoisting black flags from their homes, vehicles and other places.
Farmer leaders said that farmers should wear black turbans and black chunni on this day. Kulwant Singh, a farmer leader, said that they will fix black flags at every border.
“On Wednesday, there will be black flags fixed at the three borders of the city where farmers are protesting. The protesting farmers will observe the black day at the borders and no one will try to enter the national capital. It will be very peaceful and we are urging the citizens across the nation to support the farmers by putting black flags at their homes and other possible places, Singh said. Thousands of protesting farmers reached Delhi borders on November 26 last year to protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
On Republic Day, a tractor parade that was to highlight the demands of the farmer unions to repeal three new agri laws dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the city as tens of thousands of protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort. More than 300 policemen were injured in the incident.