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Farmers' strike: Protesters block national highways, plan to perform 'shavasana' on International Yoga Day

Indian farmers have now resorted to blocking national highways to draw further attention towards their cause. On Friday, farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab blocked national highways for three hours in order to press for loan waiver and remunerative prices for farm produce.

Business Standard mentioned that a total of 62 farmer unions participated in this blockade of national highways.

The farmers blocked NH 1 near the Anaj Mandi (grain market) at Ambala in Haryana, around 45 kilometres from Chandigarh. They parked their tractors on the highway and squatted on the road despite the sweltering heat, IANS reported.

"We have blocked the highway to protest against the policies of the central government. We will keep the highway blocked for three hours. We are protesting peacefully and we will not budge till the central government accepts our demands," Haryana Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh told IANS.

In neighbouring Punjab, farmers blocked traffic near the industrial town of Phagwara near Jalandhar, around 130 kilometres from Chandigarh. There were reports of other highways being blocked by the farmers in Haryana and Punjab.

The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report on the agriculture sector, loan waiver for debt-ridden farmers, enhanced minimum support price (MSP) on crops and acceptance of other demands.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The blockade began in Bhopal on Friday at 12 pm, and it would continue till 3 pm. However, ambulances would not be stopped. The protesting farmers have received support from the Congress and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

Meanwhile, according to Business Standard, farmer union leaders and supporters plan to visit Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat, New Delhi on Friday.

Police personnel have been deployed to prevent the protests from spiralling into violent clashes. The police diverted traffic at several places as the farmers blocked the highways.

BS Sandhu, Director-General of Police, Haryana, said that four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Sonepat, and Jind.

Further protests and blockades are to be expected, as per The Indian Express. The newspaper said that thousands of farmers across India are planning to spread themselves on the floor and perform shavasana (also known as the 'corpse pose') on International Yoga Day (21 June).

This non-violent way is being used by farmers to suggest that they are on the death bed because of the ongoing agrarian crisis.

The report mentions that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform yoga with a multitude of people in Lucknow, thousands of farmers across the nation will spread on the floor to perform shavasana.

An estimated 50,000 people have been slated to attend the International Yoga Day event, Business Standard reported. As per an ANI tweet, 74 ministers will also be part of the event:

Besides performing yoga, the farmers will also put up effigies to highlight farmer suicides. Bhartiya Kisan Union's spokesperson (BKU) Naresh Tikait reportedly said that the BKU, as a sign of protest, will block highways and organise Yoga sessions on highways in Uttar Pradesh and in other states on 21 June; this will be done to highlight the government's inability to solve the agrarian crisis, as mentioned in The Times of India.

"Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttarakhand will perform yoga on highways from 9 am to 12 pm on 21 June," said Tikayat, as quoted by The Statesman.

After farmers' strikes began in Maharashtra on 1 June, the agrarian crisis has become an issue that needs substantial and efficient deliberation. According to The Indian Express, Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi said the Opposition 'will demand a special session of Parliament to discuss' the issue.

However, with the scale of protests, even a special session might not suffice, as the issue has to be considered from a macro level while not forgetting about details at the micro level.

With inputs from agencies

Published Date: Jun 16, 2017 16:30 PM | Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 16:29 PM

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