Lucknow: The five-day ‘padayatra’ from Uttar Pradesh's Mathura to the Palwal border in Haryana was flagged off by Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), in the presence of senior farmer leaders, on Friday, to mark the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on March 23.
Farmer leaders including Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha (UPKS) secretary Mukut Singh and Uttar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Union (UPKMU) general secretary Bri Lal Bharati were also present.
National Highways leading to the national capital were swamped with farmers who came in from as far as Etawah, Basti and Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh as well as from the sugarcane belt in western Uttar Pradesh. Farmers, workers and women took a pledge to ensure the success of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the three Farm Laws.
“The padayatra aims to strengthen the ongoing farmers’ agitation by enhancing public participation and making the people aware of the ill-effects of the three farm laws. Hundreds of representatives of various unions and social activists participated in the padayatra,” UPKS secretary Mukut Singh told Newsclick. The padayatra began from the Krishi Utpadan Mandi Samiti in Mathura and will be heading to Palwal.
Singh said that similar marches began from Lal Sadak, Hansi in Hisar (Haryana) and will reach the Tikri Border. Another group hit the road from Khatkar Kalan – Bhagat Singh’s ancestral village in Punjab – and will pass through Panipat before reaching the Singhu Border.
Brij Lal Bharti, who joined the convoy along with dozens of his supporters, told Newsclick that the padayatra was essential to “educate farmers as well as the common people in the state about the gravity of the contentious laws. Our convoy will stop in every district and explain how the three laws could ruin the farmers’ lives,” said Bharti, adding that most marginal peasants in rural areas were not aware about the implications of the laws.
The padayatra left Mathura on Friday and is expected to arrive at the Palwar Border on March 23 after covering around 95 kms in four districts over a span of five days.
“The padayatra is being conducted from two districts in Uttar Pradesh — Mathura and Bulandshahr – and will arrive at the Palwal Border on March 23 to mark Bhagat Singh’s death anniversary, also observed as Martyr’s Day,” UPKS president Bharat Singh told Newsclick.
“As it passes Mathura more and more farmers from other districts will join the convoy and extend support to farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders for the last four months while braving the cold and now the scorching heat,” he said, adding that a large group of farmers from the sugarcane belt will participate in the agitation.
“The padayatra is very crucial. We wanted to tell the farmers that we are here for them. While the farmers in Haryana and Punjab are demanding that the three laws be repealed, farmers in UP are not aware of their impact. These laws work against their interests. Through our campaign we will able to provide clarity regarding the laws,” Hannan Mollah, who flagged off the padayatra, told Newsclick, adding that the farmers’ leaders will also distribute pamphlets to the farmers and people in the simplest language.
The AIKS general secretary believes that farmer leaders will clear all the doubts surrounding these laws, which, they say are not at all in their favour as is being propagated by the Modi government.
Kiran, a farmer who also joined the yatra with several of her colleagues, said: “Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a farmer’s right and we should sell our produce at MSP. If someone buys it for lesser than that then it will be considered an offence,” Kiran demanded, adding that they support the protesting farmers’ and are demanding a legal guarantee on MSP and the repeal of the three laws.
Meanwhile, to widen the ambit of the protest against the three farm laws, a 22-day tractor march from Ramraj in Muzaffarnagar district began last week. It will culminate on March 27 at the Ghazipur Border where farmers, under the leadership of Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Rakesh Tikait are protesting against the laws.