Barwani: At a single-day protest organised in MP's Barwani to commemorate the Narmada Bachao Andolan, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said their protest would end in 33 months with the Narendra Modi government's ouster.
“The massive farmers' protest at Delhi's borders has killed the three Farm Laws, only a death certificate is overdue,” roared farmer leader Yogendra Yadav on Tuesday from a makeshift stage put up at the Kisan Upaj Mandi in Barwani district.
About 350 kms away from the state’s capital city of Bhopal, Yadav and other farmer leaders – Rakesh Tikait, Hannan Mollah, Dr Sunialm, Bhagat Singh's niece Gurjeet Kaur and others – urged farmers, tribals and those struggling for their rights under the Narmada Bachao Andolan to unite and help the Prime Minister in "recovering from a disease" that has been ailing him since the West Bengal elections, they said. The day-long protest was held to commemorate the 37th establishment day of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Barwani, a tribal-dominated district bordering Maharashtra, is faced with issues of tribal rights, migration and the submergence of land areas due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
“The farmers protest ended the years-long tussle between Punjab and Haryana overnight, just like it blurred the Hindu-Muslim divide in the region,” Yadav said to a thunderous applause.
Yadav’s was followed by the convenor of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rakesh Tikait, who charged up the gathering. “The Government wants to divide us. They branded protesting Muslims as Pakistanis, Punjabis as Khalistanis and said Haryana and it’s bordering districts were in the throes of a Jat agitation, but in vain," he added.
“The country is neither run by the party or its leaders. It is run by companies and an arrogant leader who doesn't want to look weak and fear anyone who speaks against them,” he added.
Speaking about the ongoing protest, he said: “It will end in 33 months after dethroning the Modi Government. It’s a historic protest of over 550 farmer unions headed by 40 farmer leaders.”
Farmers, who had campaigned against the BJP in West Bengal, will do so in the upcoming elections to state assemblies. "Farmers will hold a massive rally on September 5 in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to decide a road-map and strategies to defeat the BJP in the upcoming elections," Tikait added.
The six-hour long Jan Sansad was followed by a five-kms long rally from Anjar Chowk in Barwani at around 11 am to the Krishi Upaj Mandi. Farmers, labourers and tribals with their bullock-carts in tow and dressed in their colourful ethnic attire were part of the march.
Sporadic rains interrupted the Jan Sansad which was held in the open. However, it failed to dampen the spirits of the farmers and workers. Following a spell of rain the crowds swelled further at the spot.
Leaders and members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan recalled the 36-year journey and what the struggle had achieved. They vowed to continue the fight until every villager of the flood-hit areas of the Sardar Sarovar Dam is compensated.
Local leaders like Nasri Bai, Sanober Mansuri, Shayam Machuara, Vijay Bharat Marola and others also spoke of the disaster which may befall farmers if the three farm laws were enacted.
“Kheti karo pet ke liye, mat karo seth ke liye (Farm for your own stomach, not for corporates),” roared Nasri Bai, a tribal rights activist, from the stage.
Addressing the rally, Hannan Mollah, All India Kisan Sabha leader and former eight-time MP remarked: “The wisest thing the Modi government can do now is to repeal all three laws, else it will cause much damage to his image the and government which he cares for."
“The farmers protest has turned into a movement which has spread like wildfire in every nook and corner of the country and it will cost the BJP government in the upcoming elections,” he added.
After a long wait of about three hours, when Rakesh Tikait came to the podium, the crowd cheered and welcomed him with applause. Minutes later former MLA and farmer leader Dr. Sunilam read out the resolutions of the Jan Sansad which were passed unopposed.
Tikat began his speech with local issues. “Barwani is a symbol of struggle and I have come here to meet tribal brothers and sisters who witnessed the disaster," he said, hailing the fishermen and farmers "who lost everything after their land and homes were submerged to fill the Sardar Sarovar Dam and who have not been compensated even after 36 years.”