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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024
Protest sites gearing up for weather change

Farm focus shifts back to border

Decision intended to free up peasants to move to Delhi’s borders in greater numbers

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 17.02.21, 02:13 AM
Farmers at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Tuesday.

Farmers at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

The collective of 32 Punjab farmer unions has decided to call off the mahapanchayats being organised across the state against the three controversial farm laws to free up peasants to move to Delhi’s borders in greater numbers and also ensure the success of the four-hour nationwide rail roko on Thursday.

Addressing a media conference at the Singhu border, the Punjab union leaders said it was their considered opinion that there was no need for mahapanchayats in their state as the farmers there were already aware of the pitfalls of the three farm laws. The need of the hour is to strengthen the movements at Delhi’s borders to counter the canard that the numbers at these protest sites have thinned since the incidents of January 26, the union leaders said.

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Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) leader Buta Singh Burjgill said arrangements had been made at the protest sites to cater to the change in weather in preparation for the long haul through the summer. Water pumps and motors have been installed, as also fans and coolers.

According to Rajinder Singh Deep Singh Wala of the Kirti Kisan Union, the mahapanchayats are needed more for states that have joined the movement late. “We have gone through this exercise last year itself,” he said, articulating a concern that with the mahapanchayats drawing all the attention, the focus had shifted from the mobilisation along the borders of the national capital which is an important pressure point of the movement.

However, as of now, the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta (Ugrahan) — the largest farmer union of Punjab — has not called off its Kisan-Mazdoor Ekta Rally planned to be held in Barnala on February 21. The Ugrahan group is not part of the 32-union collective but coordinates with them and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.

Since Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) turned the tide of a demoralised movement after the events of Republic Day with his tears two days later, union leaders have been busy organising mahapanchayats across the country to mobilise further support and counter the Narendra Modi government’s claim that only farmers of Punjab are opposed to the three farm laws. Apart from Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, mahapanchayats have been organised in Telangana and Maharashtra.

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