Farmers’ protest gets a second wind with people in Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh drawing up new strategies

Published : January 31, 2021 19:39 IST

Farmers arrive to join the ongoing protest by farmers at the Singhu border, on January 31. Photo: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Even as the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre persists with its attempts to grind down the agitation of the farmers unions against the controversial farm laws, residents in hundreds of villages across Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh have risen in solidarity with the farmers. Their spirited expressions of support are marked by unique and creative forms of camaraderie with the protesters and their organisational vanguard, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM).

Social boycott

In the historic town of Jind in Haryana, where a Jat Mahapanchayat attended by thousands of people, including women and youth in large numbers, passed a resolution stating that no leaders or members of the ruling parties in the State — the BJP and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) — would be invited for social functions, including marriages, in the villages and towns of the region. “These are the parties which have conspired to brand the members of the farming community as criminals and traitors. They deserve to be served with this notice of social prohibition,” the resolution noted.

Women supply water

In another unique show of defiance against the Uttar Pradesh government for stopping water supply to the protest venue at the Ghazipur border with Delhi, thousands of women in hundreds of villages across western Uttar Pradesh are carrying water in pots to the protesting farmers. The Yogi Adityanath government deployed a massive police force on January 28 night to remove the agitating farmers from the site, but the force was compelled to turn back when the farmers, whose numbers had swollen to the thousands by then, stood their ground.

Viral videos of incidents of that night, including the farmer leader Rakesh Tikait’s accusations against the police and the political leadership of the BJP, resulted in a huge public response and a mammoth rally the next day. The government hit back by cutting off water supply, electricity and the Internet to the agitation venue. Then the women took up the task of carrying water to the venue and continue to do so.

Apart from the resolution on the social prohibition of BJP and JJP leaders and workers, the Jind Mahapanchayat decided that a select group of farmers, youth and women would march to Delhi from Jind, a distance of around 125 kilometres, on February 7. The number of people who would participate is not known yet.

Even as the Jind Mahapanchayat was being held, a huge gathering of people belonging to different sections of society in and around Fatehgarh Sahib of Bathinda district in Punjab decided to send batches of 20 people from all the villages in the region to the agitation venue at the Singhu border. Informal estimates say there are about 1,200 villages in the region.

Talking about the plans to Frontline, farmer union leaders Ram Singh Bhaini Bagha and Sarup Singh said the BJP and its associates had been running a campaign that the incidents on Republic Day had practically put an end to the farmers agitation. Every one of the developments you have seen in the past three days has literally blown this propaganda to pieces, the two leaders said and added that the fighting spirits had been rejuvenated to the extent that they would fight this battle until it reached its logical end.