23:04 GMT28 February 2021
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    On Thursday evening, the District Magistrate of Ghaziabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh issued a notice to the protesting farmers at the Ghazipur border to vacate the site. The authority also warned the farmers of consequences if they didn't follow the orders.

    "Shoot us, bash us with batons, or even use all your force to remove us. But we won't move from this site until the black farm laws are taken back by the government", says 72-year-old protester Jagat Singh Rathi at the Delhi-Ghazipur border in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

    He says they have been protesting for 64 days, and it's their constitutional right to do so.

    ​This remark came hours after the District Magistrate of Ghaziabad gave orders to the protesting farmers at the Ghazipur border to vacate the protest site within 24 hours. 

    On Thursday night, as protesters continued to converge in massive numbers on the site, the deployment of additional force was withdrawn from the spot, but local police remained deployed there. 

    Many demonstrators began leaving the site after the authority issued the notice, but tensions still prevail at the Ghazipur border.

    However, a call from Rakesh Tikait, the key farmer leader, to his supporters changed the entire scenario.

    ​Tikait, the son of late farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, soon received support from Uttar Pradesh, and hundreds of people joined in the protest.

    At the site, protesters waved the national flag along with their farmer unions' banner. Many others preferred to rest on mattresses covered in blankets, as they braved bone-chilling cold and wind.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Rakesh Tikait says a lot of people have joined the farmers, with more expected to join later Friday.

    "We will not give up and continue to protest in the most peaceful manner", Tikait states, days after a number of protesting farmers went rogue and resorted to hooliganism at the Red Fort on India's Republic Day.

    Another demonstrator, a retired Border Security Force (BSF) officer, says he has given "31 years of life to safeguard the country while people are terming us as 'anti-nationalist'".

    "The incident was unfortunate on Republic Day but it is the role of outsiders to spoil our image. I request every citizen to come out in support of the farmers", Manideo Chaturvedi, the retired BSF officer, stressed.

    ​Over the last 60 days, farmers have been protesting on the outskirts Delhi and have blocked roads in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. They are demanding a complete rollback of recently passed agricultural laws by the central government.

    The farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

    According to the government, the laws allow farmers to sell their produce at places apart from their designated agriculture market. The laws also aim to allow contract farming under which they can enter into supply agreements with private firms for remunerative and pre-decided prices.

    Farmers, however, fear the new laws will pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system (MSP) and will affect the state procurement system of their harvest, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.

    Related:

    As Post-Republic Day Chaos Settles, Protesting Farmers Unrelentingly Stay Put in Delhi
    Tensions at Delhi's Ghazipur Border Area as Gov’t Orders Protesting Farmers to Vacate Venue - Videos
    Haryana Farmers Lend Support to Unions Occupying Delhi’s Ghazipur Border After Govt Order to Vacate
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    Republic Day of India, Uttar Pradesh, protests, farmers, Delhi
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