Police keep tractors at bay, but farmers make their voice heard
People from various walks of life came from across the State to participate in rally at Freedom Park
Thousands of farmers across Karnataka protesting against the three new farm laws enacted by the Union government held parallel Republic Day parades on Tuesday – in some cases with their tractors – terming it ‘Jana Ganarajya Divasa’, along the lines of the rally in New Delhi. Protests were held in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Hubballi-Dharwad and Kalaburagi.
Police set up hurdles for tractor rallies in most of these cities, especially in Bengaluru and adjoining Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Ramanagaram districts. The police stopped tractors as they moved towards Bengaluru, leading to verbal altercations and sit-in protests at several sites.
Leaders alleged that the police had visited houses of farmers in Anekal and Doddaballapura, on the city’s outskirts, warning them not to join the protest with their tractors. Police allowed less than a hundred tractors into Bengaluru.
Farmers held a symbolic tractor parade, entering the city through five entry points and congregating at Freedom Park.
Most of the protests saw the participation of not only farmers, but also Dalit, Left, labour and Kannada organisations. Farmers hoisted the tricolour on Tuesday and observed a minute’s silence for those who lost their lives in the Delhi protest. The protests were marked by a sense of defiance, songs, anti-corporate and anti-BJP slogans with participants demanding immediate rollback of the three farm laws.
Farmer leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar addressed the crowd at Freedom Park in Bengaluru where the rally culminated. Terming the protests across the country, especially in Delhi, as historic and a clear message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said. “The violent turn the protest took is regrettable. But this is what happens when you test the patience of a community beyond limits. This country has fought hard to come out of the clutches of the East India Company, but now the Prime Minister seems keen to hand over the company to Ambani and Adani [owners of prominent corporate groups].”
He warned that if the government does not repeal the laws, “we will expand the protests to the State and choke Bengaluru.”
Opposing the recent stringent norms on cow slaughter, he said, “People from Basavanagudi and Jayanagar need not teach us about cows. We worship them, but a complete ban on their slaughter would be a burden on farmers.”
Another farmer leader Chamarasa Malipatil describing the farmers’ movement as a “second freedom movement” said it was a misnomer that farm laws affected only farmers. “Anyone who eats food is impacted by these laws. The corporatisation of the food sector will affect food prices, the diets of people, food diversity and, hence, food security. The government seems to think that it can effect widespread changes to our entire food culture by stealth, despite opposition from a large section of society,” he said, appealing to other sections of society to join the stir.
Centenarian freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, who presided over the public rally at Freedom Park, said the farmers’ movement and the recent anti-CAA-NRC protests had instilled a sense of hope in him for the country.