New Delhi: Protesting farmers’ organisations on Saturday blocked the economic lifeline of Delhi NCR region -- the Western Peripheral Highway - connecting Kundli Industrial area with Manesar and Palwal, sending out another warning against the three contentious farm laws.
The farmers, on the call of Samyukta Kisan Morcha- a collective of farmers unions- gathered at the crucial highway much before the stipulated time of 8 a.m and blocked the vehicular traffic completely. However, ambulances and other persons needing emergency medical care were given safe passage. Considering the scorching heat, the volunteers were seen distributing juice to elderly and women to keep them hydrated during the day- long blockade.
Addressing the gathering at the toll plaza, Balbeer Singh Rajewal, veteran farmers’ leader from Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rajewal, said participants in the movement need to be cautious of miscreants and rogue elements associated with Central agencies who are actively trying to disturb the movement and bring a bad name to the morcha.
“We have successfully run the movement for five months. In this tenure, our movement has grown exponentially beyond Punjab and reached every state in the country. The strength of this movement has rattled the government agencies. Post elections results, there would be more such attacks on us,” said Rajewal.
Congratulating farmers for sticking it out for so long, Rajewal said: “The movement has achieved much more than what we expected. It is the first such battle against corporate houses where the entire struggling world is looking upon us with pride and hope. It is our achievement that the decisions we take here at Singhu Border are implemented firmly in a distant town in Tamil Nadu. It is in this movement that we united people beyond the caste and religious lines.”
On the secular nature of the movement, Rajewal said: “I was having a conversation with one of the intellectuals and he surprisingly said that the movement has stopped the advancement of the Hindutva Project which seemed unstoppable in the wake of lynching, hate campaigns and what not. We nurtured this movement with our sweat. So, it is very much our duty to protect it.”
Sporting an Assamese Gamosa (towel), Krishna Prasad, joint secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), told NewsClick that the recent actions of the government need to be analysed closely.
“The people who did not hesitate to call this movement of one state could not implement four labour codes. Similarly, the decisions to increase the prices of fertilisers is learnt to have been put on hold by IFFCO. These actions indicate that the government is very tense. So, it is not the farmers’ movement but the government that is in crisis,” he said.
Gursewak Gill, a 13-year-old boy who came from Mukeria in Punjab said the government needs to realise that the farmers who are agitating at this border are doing this out of compulsion. “We have taken repeated calls only to make this government hear. If it does not hear us, we will undertake consistent programmes to compel them to hear us,” he said. The confidence exuded by the boy reflected how young boys and girls from farming families are part of this struggle for subsistence.
Dharamender Singh, who came from Hoshiarpur in Punjab, said the “anger spilling out at this magnificent highway is because the farmer who is hungry and does not have clothes, does not have anything to depend on but his farms. His sons and daughters are roaming unemployed and the greedy corporates are eyeing his land now. So, he has come out. “
Singh, who is an anti- mining activist said big corporates were not only extracting sand from rivers but soil was being dug till 150 feet deep to meet the demands of construction companies building highways. “So, if they dig only one acre, the rest of accompanying land gets deprived of water and in monsoon, the soil erosion wreaks havoc for us. So, we have been beaten at all fronts,” he added.
Mewat Farmers Arrested, Released
In a separate development, farmers hailing from Nooh in the district of Mewat were arrested by the Haryana Police. Condemning the arrest, the morcha, in a press statement, said: ” Haryana Police arrested the farmers who were protesting in Rewasan Mewat. Some farmers were also beaten up. We strongly condemn this behaviour of the Haryana Police. Later, under the pressure of farmers and other protesters, the arrested farmers were released. In the past as well, farmers have been not scared by the violence of the police and will not be afraid even further.”
The morcha also called upon members of dalit community to boycott the programme of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar being held near the Singhu Border on April 14 this month.
“On 14 April, the Chief Minister of Haryana is organising a program near the Singhu border to create conflict between farmers and labourers. Haryana Deputy CM will also be there in a program in Kaithal. Farmers of Haryana are constantly socially boycotting the BJP-JJP government. The Khattar government can present it in such a way that the farmers are not allowing the programs of Dalits. We are clarifying that none of the acts by the farmer is against Dalits and similarly the anti-Dalit face of the BJP government is also not hidden from anyone. Since the last few years, this government has done a lot of atrocities on Dalits on scholarships, SC-ST Act, employment and other issues. This program of the Khattar government is being conducted to create a fight between the Dalits and farmers. BJP can also provoke and spread violence in these programs. We appeal to all Dalit Bahujan organizations in Haryana to peacefully oppose the Khattar government in this program.”