farmers protest: Kept away from Delhi, farmers feel restless after repeated failure of talks with centre

Every day, Manjeet Singh, Pradhan of Taipur village, drives to Khanauri to offer langar to thousands of farmers settled on the Punjab-Haryana border. He doesn’t count how many meals he and his fellow villagers cook. “We start langar at around 10 am and go on till midnight. Didn’t we do it on Sanghu border for over a year? We will do it again now,” says Singh indicating that the farmers are here for a long haul.

Prevented from marching ahead till Delhi, the farmers are camping at Khanauri and Shambhu, towns on Punjab-Haryana border. There are massive traffic diversions and heavy police barricading through Haryana to ensure farmers do not enter Delhi. There is no internet connectivity near the protest sites. A bumpy ride through the Haryana villages has to be taken to reach the Punjab-Haryana border as the police has barricaded the highway. Since the farmers had not expected they would be stopped at the Punjab-Haryana border, the restlessness at Khanauri is evident. Harshdeep Singh Gill, member of Bharatiya Kisan Naujawan Union state committee, says, “There was no plan to sit here. We had requested the government to provide us space somewhere in the capital to protest. Here the restlessness amongst farmers is growing especially with several rounds of talks failing. We tell them every day to maintain peace.”

Gill contrasts the current scenario from the protest of 2021 which had led to the Modi government withdrawing the contentious farm legislations. “At Singhu border protests farmers were given tasks daily. They were occupied and somehow they felt that they were close to Delhi and were being heard. Right now there is a feeling of being wronged,” says Gill alleging that the government was trying to discredit the protest by sending “intelligence officers” who were instigating farmers to get violent.

There are high expectations at Khanauri protest site from Sunday’s meeting. Inderjeet Singh of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee says, “We hear that the government may be agreeable to our demands. The biggest concern is an MSP guarantee law. We cannot go back without the government giving us that.” The farmers get incensed as you mention the government’s charge that those associated with Khalistan movement are funding the protest. “Check our accounts. I dare you. You will find evidence of us being in debt but not that even a single rupee of Khalistani paisa has come,” says Inderjeet Singh.

It is a fairly well managed protest with people from the villages taking turns to come and sit on dharna. Manoj, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Naujawan Union, is also a master’s student and has carried his books along. “It is an understanding reached at the village level. If we are here, others are looking after our farmlands. Then we will go bck and relieve them,” says Manoj. Ask him or anyone when will they return and pat comes the reply, “That depends on Modiji. He has gone back on his promise of giving us an MSP guarantee law. Now when they deliver on their promise we will go back.”

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