Indian farmers defy restrictions to observe ‘black day’

Friday – May 28, 2021
NEW DELHI (India): Indian farmers, including women and youth, on Wednesday, observed ‘black day’ in Punjab and Haryana by hoisting black flags atop several structures, vehicles and burning effigies of prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi, to mark 6 months of their sit-in at Delhi borders seeking withdrawal of three farms laws.

According to Kashmir Media Service (KMS), the demonstrations were held in response to a call by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of hundreds of farmer unions, to observe May 26 as a ‘black day’.

At least 12 opposition parties had on Sunday issued a statement in support of the call.

Though Haryana and Punjab witnessed spirited demonstrations across almost all districts with a huge participation of women farmers, there were reports of protests held in several parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

Farmers and the locals marked the ‘black day’ in different ways in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha and West Bengal, Islamabad in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and places in Tripura and Assam in large numbers, said the SKM.

In Punjab, farmers affiliated to various outfits staged sit-ins at almost all toll plazas on highways including key towns of Amritsar, Muktsar, Moga, Tarn Taran, Sangrur and Bathinda.

They squatted on roads and burnt effigies of PM Modi. The Haryana chapter of the all-India Kisan Sangharsh co-ordination committee claimed that despite the restricted movement due to lockdown, there was a massive participation of various sections of people and the ‘black day’ was observed at all the toll plaza protest sites.

The protest sites at Delhi’s borders saw the numbers swell with hundreds of farmers joining the protest. The demonstrators hoisted black flags on their tents, trolleys, cars, tractors and temporary structures at Singhu border.

Effigies were burnt at several locations accompanied by sloganeering. Locals also joined the protesters at Tikri border and extended their solidarity.

At Ghazipur, farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh held joint demonstrations. At Shahjahanpur on Delhi-Jaipur highway, farmers from Haryana and Rajasthan resolved to strengthen the sit-in together.

Led by All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Ashok Dhawale, several leaders of the outfit held ‘black day’ demonstration and burnt the effigy of the PM Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in New Delhi. AIKS general-secretary Hannan Mollah and finance secretary P. Krishan Prasad were also present.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, who heads his own faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Punjab, said creating awareness about the farmers issues among every section of society was the biggest achievement of the movement.

He cited the defeat of the BJP in West Bengal assembly elections and the results of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls, as proof of the farmers’ movement’s success.

The next step, he said, was to mobilise farmers against the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, adding, “The route to the chair of the ruler in Delhi goes via Uttar Pradesh.”

The ‘black day’ demonstrations also coincided with Budh Purnima (birth anniversary of Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism) and the SKM had requested all Indians to celebrate and mark the holy day 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.