What are the Dilli Chalo protests all about?

India Dec 07, 2020

For the last few days, our social media feeds have been inundated with visuals from the farmers’ protests that have been going on on the outskirts of the national capital Delhi. Farmer unions, particularly in Punjab, gave a call to all farmers to march to Delhi to demand revocation of the three Farm Laws enacted by the Centre back in September. This call for action is popularly known as ‘Dilli Chalo’ Andolan.  

A Timeline of the Protest

The farmers embarked on their walk to Delhi on Thursday, 26th November. The protestors were met with severe police brutality. After a clash that lasted for at least two hours, in which the police were seen using water cannons and tear gas, the farmers managed to cross from Punjab to Haryana. A 26-year-old man who was a part of the protest was seen climbing a police vehicle with a cannon mounted on it to turn off the water supply to the cannon. Although he was hailed as a hero by many, he has been charged with an ‘attempt to murder’.

On 27th, the farmers assembled at Delhi’s borders at Tikri and Singhu where they were, again, water cannons, tear gas shelling, and intense barricading was used to disperse the crowd. Simultaneously, as the agitation grew stronger, Delhi Police sought permission from the Delhi Government to convert nine stadiums into temporary prisons. Although the Delhi Government did not accede to this demand, such a request was seen as sinister.

It was after the standoff on 27th that the farmers were permitted to move to the Nirankari Ground in Burari to continue the protest ‘peacefully’. However, the leaders said that the final decision would be taken the next morning. The farmers refused to move to the open ground as they felt it would make the government ignore them easily, and continued to demand permission to lead their protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

Key Leaders and Demands of the Farmers

The key demand of the farmers is the withdrawal of the three contentious Farm Laws and legal assurance that the MSP system will continue. The farmers are also demanding the repeal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which, they fear, would bring an end to subsidized electricity.

Among the key leaders is the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which gave the ‘Delhi Chalo’ call. Besides this, some other organizations also leading protests are Bhartiya Kisan Union, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, Jai Kisan Andolan, etc. Although most farmers are from Punjab, a significant number of them are also from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

Spillover Effects

In a shocking turn of events, former Punjab CM and a former close political ally of the BJP, Parkash Singh Badal, returned his Padma Vibhushan award citing the “betrayal of farmers”. Besides Mr. Badal, senior SAD leader, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, also returned his Padma Bhushan. Many sportspersons have also vowed to return their medals and awards in a show of solidarity with farmers. Prominent among them is Arjuna awardee, Sajjan Singh. All India Taxi Union also promised to go on strike if the farmers’ demands are not met. Support and solidarity have been pouring in from all sides, while the government has held a couple of talks with the farm leaders that ultimately failed.

This article has been written by Ishaan Singh for The Paradigm

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