Farmers are protesting in and around Delhi against the three contentious farm bills passed by the government of India in September 2020. The ordinances became an act on September 28, 2020, when the President of India, Ramnath Kovind gave his approval.
Most of these agitating farmers believe that the acts will deprive them of getting Minimum Support Price (MSP) on their crops and in future destroy the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets where they sell their crops, and thus will leave them at the mercy of big corporates who might exploit them. Many of these people believe according to the new laws, farmers can sell their products outside the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets, and thus private players can intervene and initially provide better rates of the agricultural products, but later may engulf the APMC market, leaving the farmers at their mercy.
Despite five previous rounds of meetings with the farmers' leaders, no resolution has come up.
In context to this, on December 17, Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare wrote an eight-page letter to the farmers trying to explain the benefits of the new laws and also remove any misleading perception about the laws. He said some people are trying to mislead the farmers about the farm laws and requested them to detect and deny any such lies.
The letter was shared with the caption, "सभी किसान भाइयों और बहनों से मेरा आग्रह ! "सबका साथ सबका विकास सबका विश्वास" के मंत्र पर चलते हुए प्रधानमंत्री श्री Narendra Modi जी के नेतृत्व में हमारी सरकार ने बिना भेदभाव सभी का हित करने का प्रयास किया है। विगत 6 वर्षों का इतिहास इसका साक्षी है।" (Which translates in English as, "I request all the farmers, our government has tried to follow the path of 'sabka sath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas' under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and without any discrimination has tried to do welfare of everyone. The history of past 6 years is the proof.")
सभी किसान भाइयों और बहनों से मेरा आग्रह !— Narendra Singh Tomar (@nstomar) December 17, 2020
"सबका साथ सबका विकास सबका विश्वास" के मंत्र पर चलते हुए प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी के नेतृत्व में हमारी सरकार ने बिना भेदभाव सभी का हित करने का प्रयास किया है। विगत 6 वर्षों का इतिहास इसका साक्षी है।#ModiWithFarmers pic.twitter.com/Ty6GchESUG
आप विश्वास रखिये, किसानों के हितों में किये गए ये सुधार भारतीय कृषि में नए अध्याय की नींव बनेंगे, देश के किसानों को और स्वतंत्र करेंगे, सशक्त करेंगे। pic.twitter.com/bwA17HXph3— Narendra Singh Tomar (@nstomar) December 17, 2020
On 7th page of the same letter, Tomar wrote, "When there are grave security threats near the borders of Leh and Ladakh; when the snow in these areas are very deep, then those trying to block trains carrying goods for these soldiers who are fighting at borders cannot be farmers. Due to these people, we are using airways to provide logistics and other essentials to these soldiers. A huge part of citizens' earnings is being used to arrange these essentials for soldiers." He also said that people who are against the nation are hiding under the veil of the farmers' protest.
In his letter to farmers, Agricultural Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar said that farmers are blocking trains carrying goods for soldiers who are fighting at borders.
Prior to Narendra Singh Tomar's statement, many right-wing ideologues have already shared many fake and misleading claims trying to belittle the farmers' protest as a movement by Khalistanis and Urban Naxals to disparage Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Central government. The Logical Indian has already debunked many of these claims viral on social media, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Farmers protesting against the new farm laws have blocked the movement of trains carrying goods.
The Logical Indian searched for media reports on farmers blocking the trains since the farm bills were passed. For nearly three months, the farmers in Punjab were protesting against the farm bills and then they moved to Delhi.
The Print on November 17, 2020, reported that 1,987 passenger, 3,090 goods trains were cancelled due to Punjab farmers' protests." The Print also reported, 43 passenger trains scheduled to run in Punjab on 17 and 18 November were cancelled or terminated early and 203 freight trains — carrying coal, fertiliser and cement — scheduled to run on 16 November were cancelled. This report was published before farmers marched towards Delhi.
Indiatv on November 4, 2020, reported that though the farmers' protests in Punjab had disrupted the passenger trains, the farmers union had allowed goods trains to ply for a fortnight more till November 20 in the northern state. In the same article, it was mentioned that the farmers had earlier allowed the passage of goods trains in the state till November 5, but the Indian Railways decided to keep all railway services in Punjab suspended as a precaution.
A report by The Hindu published on November 24, said even after the train services were resumed in Punjab, the farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee blocked the passenger trains near Jandiala railway station as a part of 'rail roko' agitation against the farm laws. The same report quoted Sarvan Singh Pandher, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Samiti, who said that they would let the goods trains go but not the passenger trains till the Centre accedes to their demands.
Another report published by The Hindustan Times on December 2 said six trains of Northern Railways will remain cancelled due to farmers' protest. The Hindustan Times reported, "The decision comes a day after the central and Punjab governments told the Punjab and Haryana high court that all rail tracks have been cleared of protesters. Both governments told the court that the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee members had vacated the tracks and were sitting in nearby parks. They had assured to allow goods trains but not passenger trains."
Though the farmers blocked passenger trains, they never told of blocking goods trains and have allowed their movements; it is the railway authority who had earlier blocked the movement of freight trains over security concerns.
Hence, the statement made by Narendra Singh Tomar that farmers are blocking good trains is misleading.
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