Farmers protesting against the Indian government’s three new farm laws are further intensifying their agitation. In a statement, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Wednesday announced a four-hour nationwide “rail roko” (railway blockade) on February 18. Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) is an umbrella body that represents over 40 farmer unions and is spearheading the ongoing farmers protests.
SKM said: “There will be a rail roko across the country from 12 pm to 4 pm [IST] on February 18.” The statement also stated that toll collection will not be allowed in Rajasthan from February 12.
The farmers unions have also announced a candlelight and torch march on February 14 across India to honor the sacrifice of the martyred soldiers in the Pulwama attack and on February 16 the farmers will organize events to show solidarity on the birth anniversary of Chhotu Ram. Ram was a pre-partition farmer leader who fought for the rights of farmers.
The farmers’ announcement comes a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government has respect for farmers voicing their opinions on the farm laws. Modi also criticized the opposition for misleading the farmers.
Prominent farmer leader Rakesh Tikait stated that the protesting farmers are not aiming for a change in power at the Centre but a solution to their problems. Tikait said: “We [farmers] want it [government] to repeal the farm laws and ensure a law on MSP (Minimum Support Price).” He also added that several farm leaders will tour different parts of India to spread the movement.
As we have reported, earlier this month, farmer unions had observed a three-hour roadblock or chakka jam.