Economy

'Will continue siege till govt relents’: Farmers

Poornima Joshi Singhu Border (New Delhi) | Updated on December 04, 2020

Langar being distributed during farmers at Singhu Border, in New Delhi   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

Not since the iconic farmer leader Mahinder Singh Tikait captured the Boat Club lawns in 1988 has the Capital City witnessed a mass mobilisation of the kind being witnessed at the Delhi borders for the past one week. And if the daily expansion of several kilometres long makeshift townships of farmers at the borders is anything to go by, the farmers from mainly Punjab and Haryana seem determined to carry on the siege of Delhi indeterminately.

The protestors have already declared their intent — all the five entry points to Delhi would be blocked if the Centre does not concede their demands. They want an immediate repeal of the three farm laws passed during the monsoon session – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services.

Their grouse is primarily with the first law aimed at creating an option for farmers to sell directly outside the APMC mandis. But because the Government brought the laws in as ordinances during the Covid-19 pandemic and pushed them without much debate in Parliament, the farmers feel the government’s intent is suspect, and want the last two acts relating to removal of stockholding limits and creation of a framework for contract farming be also repealed.

‘Can stay for long’

At the Singhu border, the caravans of trucks overloaded with foodgrain, mattresses, tents and tarpaulins that have been pitched into creating several mini cities stretch up to at least 10 kilometres. They have sold their paddy harvest and sown rabi crops; the first watering of wheat has been done and they have enough time till the April harvest to make sure the Centre withdraws what they believe is the biggest offence against the farming community in recent history.

The villagers from as far away as Taran Taran, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Amritsar in Punjab are here and, according to Baba Amreek Singh of the Gurudwara Tapasthan, village Nikki Khuan, Gurudaspur district (Punjab), the provisions they have brought along are still stoved away in the trucks. The villages in Sonipat at the Singhu Border have supplied rations to keep the food kitchen or “langars” going for the past one week.

Local support

“The Government believes it is only us Punjabis who are affected. Look around you,” he said, waving at the small mountains of vegetables, fruit, drinking water stacks, biscuits, blankets and mattresses. “These have all come from the villages around us. Our neighbours (laughs) in the surrounding villages are giving us what we need everyday. We haven’t needed to open up our supplies. The common farmers has risen as one. They know we are here to stay till these black laws are withdrawn. We are not moving from the road,” Amreek Singh told BusinessLine.

According to Jasbir Singh Piddi, Vice President of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Smiti, Taran Taaran, there is very little point in talking to the Government. He believes that the Government has to be “brought to its knees” before they start “proper dialogue”.

Published on December 04, 2020

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