The farmers protests against the Farm Laws at Delhi’s borders is receiving renewed support from parts of Punjab following the incidents of violence on Republic Day and the subsequent police action. Village panchayats and other farmers outfits from different parts of the state have their assured support to the movement by passing resolutions for participation in the dharna at the Singhu and Tikri borders.
Speaking to NewsClick, Harmanjeet, a panch from Poohla village in Bathinda district said that panchayat meetings have been held to organise members for the movement after villagers expressed their willingness to participate in the ongoing protest in the aftermath of the police action and after clashes at the protest site.
“We held several panchayat meetings since yesterday after the villagers came to us and expressed their willingness to participate in the protest. Resolutions have been passed in these panchayat meetings to organise the farmers as we don’t want the movement to die down. But we also want it to go on peacefully,” Harmanjeet said.
According to him between 700 and 800 tractors have left with rations from Bathinda district alone till Friday. Resolutions passed by the panchayats have made the participation of at least one member per family mandatory for a minimum of seven days. Families which fail to do so have been asked to pay Rs 1,500 to the panchayat.
Sarpanch Avtar Singh from Kararwala village in Rampura Phul Tehsil of Bathinda district explained the logic behind such resolutions. “The farmers are being sent in batches from each village. There are around 700 villages in Bathinda. We don’t want a few families to send three to four members each and others to just offer solidarity by lip-service from here. This protest is for the farmers, and, during the meeting, everyone agreed that they want the black laws to be repealed. Then why only should only a few households participate? We need to stand united and support each other.”
One such resolution
The resolution also mentions that those found consuming drugs or participating in any untoward activity will be chastised in front of the entire village. “Yes, we want the protest to go on peacefully; no clashes, no untoward activity, no drugs or alcohol. Thus we have made it a point to mention this in our resolution,” Singh said.
Singh told NewsClick that the groundwork put by the farmers in Punjab to keep the agitation alive has never been mentioned much. “For each farmer who returns due to personal issues or ill-health, we send more farmers to join the agitation from Punjab with ration for themselves and others. This has been happening for two months. Nobody is being forced. Everyone is participating willingly; we are just organising them so that the movement sustains itself,” he said.
Expressing outrage over the farmers being called ‘Khalistani’ and ‘anti-national’, Harmanjeet said: “We want protests to continue peacefully. Our farmer unions have condemned the Red Fort incident and we don’t believe in violence of any kind. But to say that our issues are not genuine and to think that these remarks will threaten us. Sorry, we will not move till the black laws are repealed.”
Farmer unions and panchayat members stressed that the events unfolding in Delhi have only intensified the struggle and “the movement is not going to die anytime soon”. The attempts made by Uttar Pradesh administration to vacate the Ghazipur Protest site following which Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait’s tears went viral, and the clashes that broke out yesterday between supposed “locals” and farmers at the Singhu Border have triggered the farmers in Punjab, according to their unions.
In Nangal Kalan, one of the largest villages in Mansa district, between 70 to 80 tractors have left with rations for the Singhu Border. Ram Singh Bhaini Bagha, president BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) said the farmers are now more determined than ever.
“Farmers are leaving everyday – few in tractors and others by train – to join the movement. They thought that the violence and calling us Khalistani will weaken our movement but we won’t budge till our demands are fulfilled. Rumours spread that the movement would die after Republic Day but we won’t let that happen as it is for our livelihoods. It is about people’s power,” he added.