With the farmers’ agitation enjoying popular support despite the passage of over four months, the protesters seem determined to sustain the stir even during the upcoming wheat harvesting season in Haryana. The Indian Express explain what is driving the agitation, and how farmer leaders plan to keep the momentum going.
Plans to sustain agitation during harvesting season
The farmers want to continue their significant presence at the toll plazas as well as on Delhi borders during the harvesting season. Recently, the police had estimated the presence of around 40,000 “committed supporters” of the agitation from Haryana and Punjab at Delhi’s borders. The police had also admitted that the farmer agitation succeeded in garnering “widespread support geographically” in Haryana during the “Bharat Bandh” on March 26.
With morale high, BKU leader from Jind, Azad Singh Palwa, says, “We are ready to harvest our crop even during the night hours to continue the agitation during the day.” Farmer outfits in Jind district have asked farmers to go to the toll plazas in rotation. “Every day, farmers from 15 villages go to Khatkar toll plaza in Jind. The turn of farmers from a village comes again after a week. Likewise, we ask 40 farmers from each of the big villages to remain at Delhi borders,” says Palwa.
Yamunanagar BKU leader Subhash Gurjar says the farmers from their area stay at Delhi borders for three days and then return home to look after agricultural fields once another batch of farmers reaches the borders.
What is the driving force behind farmers’ commitment?
The sentiment of struggling to “protect the land” is the main driving force. The farmers don’t seem willing to return to their homes till they are satisfied their land is not going anywhere. As of now, there is a deep-rooted feeling among a large section of the farmers that the three farm laws are meant to “facilitate corporates grabbing their land sooner or later.”
While BJP leaders are making lot of efforts to convince farmers that the laws are meant for their welfare and various provisions in them are just optional, as of now, farmers don’t seem convinced. The farmer leaders continue to equate the ongoing agitation with “another freedom struggle”.
A former IAS officer, SK Goyal, who has actively supported the agitation, claims the apprehensions of the farmers are not baseless. “The agriculture sector will be in danger after the three farm laws are implemented, as they may facilitate handing over large chunks of land to corporates. These laws will adversely affect the security of MSP for crops later or sooner,” says Goyal.
Outcome of the agitation so far
Haryana has never seen such a farmers’ agitation in the past century. A political observer, Rishi Saini, says the farmer protests in the past were mainly limited to some areas or to a small period. But such a long agitation, which has such widespread appeal in different sections of the society, is unique.
Unlike Punjab, the farmer organisations in Haryana were not very strong before this movement. But now, these organisations have succeeded in spreading their wings to a large part of the state. Not only this, village-level committees have been formed, apart from a growing army of dedicated activists.
If the agitation continues, the farmer outfits may succeed in expanding their structure further. With a formidable organisation, the farmer unions will keep posing a challenge not only for the current ruling dispensation, but to future regimes too.
What are the hopes of farmers?
Despite the long agitation, there seems to be a sense of satisfaction among the leaders of farmer outfits. BKU’s Azad Singh Palwa says, “This is a battle for our survival. We are ready to struggle for years to save our land. We have hopes that we will be able to save our land. Even for freedom, our forefathers had to fight for years. Our struggle is for economic freedom. Our agitation will give hopes to millions of people in the world to fight long and hard for their rights.”
Echoing similar sentiments, BKU’s Subhash Gurjar says, “We will tell our future generations with pride that we fought to save our land. We are hopeful that our efforts will be fruitful and the government will repeal these laws later or sooner.”
repost from The Indian Express