Thousands of farmers initially from Punjab and Haryana and later from other states started a protest on November 26 against three farm laws that they fear will corporatise farming. Braving police resistance and freezing weather, they have now reached Delhi — with several groups laying siege to various borders of the national capital — engaged in talks with the Centre. The protest as it is going on has established several hallmarks.
No politician allowed to speak at farmers gathering
Amid allegations that the protest is politically motivated, the farmers’ organizations had said in the beginning that no political leaders will be allowed to give a speech from the protest platform. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and Jan Adhikar party chief Pappu Yadav visited the protest site at Ghazipur border and pledged their support. On Saturday, singer, actor Diljit Dosanjh visited Singhu border and addressed the farmers. “Farmers have created a new history. This history would be narrated to future generations. Farmers’ issues should not be diverted by anyone,” Diljit said. Several Punjabi singers, including Gurshabad Singh Kular and Harf Cheema, performed at Singhu border on Saturday.
Refusing government hospitality at meetings
The protesters have opened a community kitchen at Singhu border which supplied the lunch of the union leaders who went to Vigyan Bhawan for the meeting with the Centre. This happened both on Thursday and Saturday as the leaders refused to accept government hospitality.
During Saturday’s meeting, the union leaders went on a ‘maun vrat’ seeking a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reply on whether the laws will be withdrawn or not. Some of the leaders also showed the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ placard refusing to take part in the consultation.
After Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (Padma Vibhushan) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) chief and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Dhindsa (Padma Bhusan) returned their awards, several sportspersons are also ready to return their awards in support of the protest. “We have left for Delhi today and will join the farmers’’ protest,” said former wrestler Kartar Singh, who is a Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee. Other former sportspersons who are headed to the national capital are Dhyan Chand awardee hockey Olympian Gurmail Singh, Arjuna awardee Kabaddi player Hardeep Singh, and Arjuna awardee weightlifter Tara Singh.
On Friday, former national boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, during whose tenure India won its maiden Olympic medal in the sport, Padma Shri boxer Kaur Singh and Arjuna awardee boxer Jaipal Singh had announced that they would return their awards.
Farmers have been protesting since the bills were passed in September. The first round of talks with the Centre had taken place in October, but the farmer leaders had walked out from that meeting as no minister was present. This was followed by the second round on November 13. The last three rounds have taken place after ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest began.
(With agency inputs)