Farmers to hold candle march today: plea in Supreme Court to consider reasonable demands

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Farmers to hold candle march today: plea in Supreme Court to consider reasonable demands

Thousands of farmers are still encamped on the boundaries of Khanauri and Shambhu, agitating for their demands with their trucks and tractor-trolleys.

Leader Sarwan Singh Pandher stated on Friday that farmers who are protesting to urge their demand for higher prices for their crops will remain at the two interstate border sites till February 29 when the next course of action will be chosen. The groups leading the current agitation, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), decided to camp at the two protest locations, Shambhu and Khanauri. A "Delhi Chalo" march by thousands of farmers started last week, but approximately 200 km north of the capital, security forces broke it up. Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which had hitherto refrained from protesting, joined the uproar when a farmer lost his life in gunfire with security personnel.

Here are the most recent updates regarding the farmers' protest:

Leader of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha Pandher announced that on February 24 there will be a candle march, on February 25 there will be seminars on issues pertaining to farmers, on February 26 there will be effigies of the World Trade Organization and the Center burned, and over the next two days there will be multiple meetings of SKM (Non-Political) and KMM.

In an effort to broaden their protest, farmers on Friday burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other members of his administration. On Friday, tractors and trolleys parked at the protest location were adorned with black banners. In a show of unity, some protestors—the majority of whom are Punjabi Sikhs—also fastened black fabric over their turbans.

Bhagwant Mann, the chief minister of Punjab, granted ₹1 crore in compensation and a government position for the sister of farmer Shubhkaran Singh, who was killed at the Khanauri border check following fighting between police and protesting farmers. Mann offered his sympathies for Singh's passing and promised that those accountable would face severe consequences. Farmer leaders had demanded that Singh be declared a "martyr" and that his family be given financial support and a job.

Participating farmer leaders in the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation have said that the cremation of Shubhkaran Singh has been postponed till the Punjab government files a charge against individuals they believe to be at fault. Even though Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann promised Shubhkaran's sister a job and compensation, farmer leaders demand that the perpetrators be held accountable before cremation takes place. They claimed that representatives of the Punjabi government had coerced Shubhkaran's family into accepting the cremation in exchange for not meeting their requests.

A Supreme Court petition was filed pleading with the Indian government to respond to the justifiable requests of farmers conducting nonviolent demonstrations. The Sikh Chamber of Commerce's managing director, Agnostos Theos, submitted a suit asking the Supreme Court to order the removal of barricades, a stop to violence against protestors, and a response to farmers' requests to follow the recommendations of the Swaminathan committee. In addition, the petition demanded that social media accounts be unblocked, free expression be upheld, and formal complaints against government acts impeding nonviolent protests be filed.

The National Security Act (NSA) restrictions against certain farmer leaders involved in the current farmers' movement are being rescinded, according to the Haryana Police.

Farmer activist Sarwan Singh Pandher reported that Darshan Singh, 62, of Amargarh village in Bathinda district, died of a heart attack while taking part in the 'Delhi Chalo' demonstration at Khanauri on the Punjab-Haryana border. This adds to the number of people who have died during the ongoing protests, which also includes a 63- and 72-year-old who both passed away from heart attacks and a 21-year-old who was killed in fighting between Punjabi farmers and the Haryana Police.

Farmers demanding a minimum support price were advised to be patient by Rashtriya Lok Dal chairman Jayant Chaudhary, who assured them that a solution would undoubtedly be found. He lamented the young farmer's death during the fighting at the Khanauri border between Punjab and Haryana and asked "both sides" to exercise caution.

Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of Haryana, did not raise taxes in the ₹1.89-lakh-crore budget for 2024–25, although he did announce the forgiveness of interest and penalties on some crop loans. As he unveiled the state budget, Khattar claimed that his administration had done a lot to support farmers and that 14 crops were receiving the Minimum Support Price.

The farmers who are protesting want the following things in addition to a legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP) for crops and the waiver of farm loans: the implementation of the recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission; pensions for farmers and farm laborers; no increase in electricity tariffs; the withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in 2021; the reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013; and compensation for the families of farmers who lost their lives during a previous agitation in 2020–21.