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Day 1: Protesting farmers hold ‘Kisan Sansad’ peacefully at Jantar Mantar as Delhi Police keep close watch

Farmers' representatives holding a 'Kisan Sansad' at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi on July 22, 2021. Photo: SKM

New Delhi, July 22 (MNN) The first batch of 200 farmers on Thursday held their ‘Kisan Sansad’ for nearly four hours in central Delhi near Parliament during the ongoing Monsoon Session, even as Delhi Police had put tight security arrangements in place.

Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait was also present at the spot. After the farmers were escorted to the Jantar Mantar by Delhi Police in nearly two-and-a-half hours, he remarked that it seemed they were crossing the international border.

Political activist Yogendra Yadav said they reached late at the spot around 1 pm instead of 11 am due to police. “But we are used to such delays. We are happy we could hold our Kisan Sansad in Delhi,” he said.

The SKM said in the evening that the “Delhi Police’s attempts to stifle democracy” even after the Kisan Sansad had started by keeping the media away was “shameful and condemnable”.

A day earlier, the farmers were allowed to rally and protest at the Jantar Mantar, which is around one km from Parliament, from 11 am to 5 pm in batches of not more than 200 persons.

Police spokesperson Chinmaya Biswal said on Wednesday that the proposed ‘Kisan Sansad’ at the Jantar Mantar would be peaceful, for which the farmers have given a written assurance to the Delhi Police. He said that appropriate security arrangements have been made.

On Thursday morning, the first batch of protesters were escorted by police to the designated location from the Singhu border in buses. Reports said the protesters were first taken to a resort for frisking by police before they were taken to the protest spot.

On Wednesday, the farmer leaders of ‘Samyukt Kisan Morcha’ (SKM) and ‘Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee’ (KMSC) held multiple rounds of talks with police and assured in writing that they would remain peaceful. After a nod from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, they were permitted to protest at Jantar Mantar – not more than 200 persons from SKM and six persons for KMSC from 11 am to 5 pm daily. They were advised Covid appropriate behaviour and social distancing.

Authorities had also advised them not to take out any protest march in view of coronavirus restrictions.

The SKM said that farmer contingents from different states were reaching different morcha venues for the ‘Kisan Sansad’.

“From Thursday, SKM contingents of 200 farmers each will go to Jantar Mantar to protest against the Modi government, and hold their own ‘Kisan Sansad’ on each working day of Parliament till the end of Monsoon Session,” the SKM said in a statement on Wednesday.

In Kerala, Karshaka Prakshobha Aikyadhardya Samithi would hold dharnas in front of Union government offices at all 14 district headquarters and at the block level.

Apart from two batches of farmers from the southern state, farmers from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other distant states too are reaching Delhi, it said.

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