The padyatra that started from Mathura on March 19 culminated at Palwal on Tuesday. On March 22, the farmers retired for the day at Mitrol after addressing gatherings in three villages. The padyatra started from Mitrol and halted at Srinagar for breakfast. Moving ahead, the next stop of the farmers was the Palwal sugar mills where the padyatra was welcomed by cooperative sugar mill workers, farmers from the region and the director of the sugar mill.
Near Palwal, the padyatra was joined by P. Krishna Prasad, Finance Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and N K Shukla, Joint Secretary, AIKS. After having lunch, the padyatra proceeded towards Palwal in the form of a procession and was joined by workers from CITU, mid-day meal workers and workers from Sarva Karmachari Sangha. The procession saw a participation of more than 200 people. The main speakers of the event at Palwal included P. Krishna Prasad, N K Shukla, Virendra Singh, Vice President, Haryana Kisan Sabha and Dr. Raghuvir Singh, lecturer Political Science.
Speaking with Newsclick, Virendra Singh said, "This is the second struggle for freedom. Ours is the fight to protect our land and our future generations. 90 years ago, Bhagat Singh was martyred while fighting against imperialism. Our struggle today is against imperialism of a different order."
In response to the call of All India Kisan Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union and Centre of Indian Trade Unions, similar padyatras had started from Hansi in Hisar (Haryana) and Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh, which will culminate at the Tikri border and Singhu border, respectively.
At Banchari, the farmers were addressed by president of Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha, Bharat Singh, president of Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sabha, Ramnarayan Kurariya and vice-president of Haryana Kisan Sabha, Virendra Singh Malik. At 1 p.m, the yatra arrived Mundkati where the farmers were welcomed by the former sarpanch of village Marroli, Nanak Chand. The farmers were served with lunch and a discussion on the impact of farm laws on the condition of farmers followed.
Vikram Singh addressing a gathering at Sarai
Speaking with NewsClick, Pradyuman Singh, a farm leader from village Paldi said: “We do not want subsidies or debt waivers. We want electricity, irrigation facilities, seeds and manure at reasonable prices and adequate support price for our farm produce. But we do not get any of these. In a state like Haryana, we get electricity for two hours, instead of eight hours. The water in the streams is so polluted that it cannot be used in our farms. We need the government to take care of these problems. We need mandis.”
Former sarpanch of Marroli, Nanak Chand, said: “This government believes that farmers are uneducated, they do not understand anything. They believe that they can mislead us. Today, our children are well educated. They understand the nitty-gritties of the law. The government has been elected to serve us, to ensure good governance. But this government has abandoned us under the influence of capitalists. The results of this unprecedented struggle waged by the farmers will be seen by the government in the next elections.”
Moving ahead, the next stop of the padyatra was village Sarai. The gathering here was addressed by Vikram Singh, joint secretary, All India Agricultural Workers Union, Badal Saroj, joint secretary of AIKS, Ayub Khan, a farm leader from Sarai, amongst others. Addressing the gathering, Saroj thanked the farmers from Sarai for supplying milk, flour and oil to the dharna at Palwal. Vikram Singh said: “Farmers are not here to beg or extract from anyone else. They are demanding rightful returns for their labour. We are fighting our rights and dignity.”
Badal Saroj addressing a gathering at Sarai
The farmers marched ahead to Mitrol where they were to rest for the day. Preparations were started for the culmination of the padyatra at Palwal on Tuesday, marking the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
On this occasion, speaking with NewsClick, Raghuvir Singh, a lecturer of Political Science and one of the main speakers at Palwal, said: “In his last meeting with his comrade Shiv Kumar, Bhagat Singh had said to him that this was not a time to give in to sentiments. We will be martyred in a few hours. But you will have to struggle until we have achieved social and economic freedom.” He added, “By revolution, Bhagat Singh meant that this entire structure standing on injustice, exploitation and harassment be overturned. The society should be reformed. This is only possible through a revolution. Inspired by Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy, farmers are taking their fight ahead today. This is a historic movement.”
The writer is an author and a Research Associate with NewsClick. The views are personal. She can be reached on Twitter @ShinzaniJain.