For Tejveer Singh, the day now begins with several calls and customary visits to other activists in Ambala to take stock of the preparations ahead of the Bharat Bandh on September 27. Singh, a farmer who has been busy organising farmers against the contentious three central farm laws since the inception of the movement in July previous year, said that they have put in place elaborate arrangements for Bandh to be observed.
“We have requested the traders to shut down their shops. Ambala is known for its textile markets and all traders’ associations have assured us of their support. Big congregations will be held in all four tehsils in the districts. The bar associations across the state have already announced that they will suspend their work. I think the biggest congregation could be at Shambhu border because the farmers from the neighbouring districts will also come. We have also planned to protest at the district headquarters to express our anguish. But we have decided to dedicate one road for people in medical emergencies travelling in ambulances, the families who are coming along with the brides, and other people who may need it.”
In its appeal, Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a collective of farmers’ organisations, has asked all “organisations of workers, traders, transporters, businessmen, students, youth and women and all social movements to extend solidarity with the farmers that day”. It read, “We also call upon all political parties and state governments, many of whom have endorsed our earlier calls and passed resolutions supporting the movement, to lend their support to this Bharat Bandh and stand with the farmers in their quest to defend principles of democracy and federalism.”
Apart from three central farm laws, the anguish among the protesting Haryana farmers seems to be rooted in the police’s interference as well as the challenge of meeting daily needs in raging inflation. “They have registered 178 cases under which 40,000 people have been booked. The farmers are facing harassment for raising their voice in a just manner,” said Singh.
He added that the prices of diesel have increased by Rs 25 over just a year. When asked if he thinks the bandh would pave the way for initiation of talks between farmers and the Union government -- which ended unceremoniously on January 21 this year -- Singh said the government is no longer interested in talks and it will get its lessons from the ballots now. “Samyukta Kisan Morcha has rightly decided to campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party under Mission UP and Mission Uttarakhand. Only people will teach them a lesson.”
Sumit Dalal, along with his team, is travelling across rural parts of Rohtak, Sirsa and Hisar to request people to take to the streets on the day of Bandh. Talking to NewsClick, amidst his campaign, Dalal, who heads the All India Kisan Sabha Haryana, said that munadi (announcements) are being done through the loudspeakers of the temples. “The message of mass participation has percolated in the rural masses. Our teams are also visiting slums and other clusters where workers may be living to ensure their participation. We are expecting that construction workers, scheme workers and government employees would suspend the work completely.”
Dalal emphasised that the people are buoyed after the success of Karnal agitation and Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat. “When farmers went there and saw a sea of people who shared their grief and aspirations for dignity in life, their confidence was bolstered. They knew that they were not alone in their fight. They are enthused and they will make this bandh successful.”
Satbeer Malik, veteran trade union leader, said that their appeal for suspending the work has been met with positive response by factory owners as they are dealing with a slowdown too with hardly any demand in the market. “The workers are worried because there are no jobs; the factory owners are worried because there are no orders. They are participating in the bandh because this country is way beyond the two friends of Mr Prime Minister,” he told NewsClick.
Suresh Koth, a prominent face of the farmers’ struggle in the state, said that the farmers have devised their own plans as per their convenience, as the cotton and pearl millets’ cultivation is in full swing. Koth added the bandh would be successful in the areas like Ahirwal where BJP leaders have been actively stoking tensions along caste lines. When asked about the PM's US tour amid the protests, he said, “The PM is lecturing the world about human rights. Does he not see us ? Do we not have human rights? Does he not know that our 600 farmers died on borders sitting on the roads? Did he not see the rotting bodies thrown out in the Ganges in the COVID period? It is ludicrous to tell the world that you really care about human rights!”
Ratan Singh Sorot, a farmers’ leader from Palwal in Southern Haryana told NewsClick that local farmers will be assembling at Minar Chowk where the day-long proceedings are to take place. He said, “Our 52 khaps will be mobilising the farmers and you will hear the news by the evening about how widespread this Bharat Bandh was."
Also read: Ground Down by Hardship, Farmers Ready for Historic Bandh on Sept 27