Farmers block national highway in Haryana, hold rally against farm ordinances

The Bhartiya Kisan Union and other farmer organisations on Thursday blocked the national highway at Pipli in Kurukshetra district of Haryana to protest the Centre’s three farm ordinances, which they claimed were ‘anti-farmers’.
The Pipli Chowk on National Highway 22 remained tense and a centre for a ‘battle’ between the police and protesters for about four hours.
The police had raised a number of barriers to stop the farmers from reaching Pipli Mandi to hold ‘Kissan Bachao, Mandi Bachao’ rally organised by the farmer organisations and supported by the Congress and AAP.
The protesters, however, managed to break many of these barriers.
The agitating farmers also blocked traffic on the national highway for over four hours, causing hardship to thousands of commuters who used village link roads to bypass Pipli.
Police resorted to lathicharge when farmers coming from Shahbad area pushed their way into the rally site. The agitating farmers also broke window panes of a fire brigade vehicle and pelted stones on the police.
Superintendent of Police Astha Modi said agitators blocked the national highway.
The district administration relented and lifted the barriers outside the rally site to allow thousands of protesters reach their destination.
Haryana BKU president Gurnam Singh Charuni described the rally as its first success against the ‘repressive government’.
He said farmers would continue to hold rallies and demonstrations throughout the country till the ‘anti-farmer’ ordinances are not withdrawn.
Charuni alleged that the BJP government through these ordinances was trying to get out of the well tested Minimum Support Price and Mandi system, and was throwing the farmers before ‘big sharks’ to exploit them.
He also condemned the police action on protesters.
He claimed many farmers were injured and several of them were taken into custody to prevent them from reaching the rally spot from across the state.
Opposition leaders like Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and AICC spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala strongly condemned the use of police force on farmers and charged the BJP-JJP combine government with suppressing the voice of peasantry through oppressive measures.
Farmer leader Akshay Hathira, who led one of the protester groups, told media that the state government was trying to curb the voice of farmers by banning the rally and imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 (prevents assembly of five or more people at one spot) at Pipli.
The BJP-led state government had asked the BKU not to go ahead with the rally in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Notably, farmers in Haryana and Punjab have been protesting against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.