Thousands of farmers who are protesting the three controversial farm laws enacted by the BJP-led Centre have strengthened their resolve. Soon after Union Ministers such as Narendra Singh Tomar and Amit Shah have called for a meeting if the farmers returned to their states, the protestors said that they would remain until a decision has been made. Protestors at the Haryana-Delhi border — in Singhu and Tikri — have explained that they are willing to wait it out for six months or more until the Centre repeals the farm laws.
The farmers have come prepared with resources for cooking meals to further their movement. On Saturday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the government is willing to talk to the farmers if they are prepared to move away from the highways and to the designated protest site in Burari. However, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has decided that it won’t be the case. They explained that Burari won’t be an ideal site for their protest, and they can make a better impact by blocking the highways. The leadership has asked the farmers already at the Burari ground to return to the borders.
The movement is given strength by the AIKSCC and dozens of other farmer organisations under it as well as many other smaller organisation spread across the nation. The current protest features farmers mostly from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The protest has been a long time coming ever since the Centre had enacted the three farm laws, that experts claim is “paving the way to the corporatisation of farming” and “not beneficial to farmers”. The situation has gotten worse since the Centre refused to take a step back with the laws. Shiromani Akali Dal — BJP’s oldest alliance in Punjab and one of the oldest party in India — had, on September, quit the NDA and the Union cabinet, citing the controversial farm laws. More recently, the party committee had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set aside all plans and hear the pleas of the protesting farmers.
Not just SAD, many other organisations have also come out demanding that the Centre listen to the farmers and repeal the three laws. Recently, a small group of left organisations and some state parties have issued a joint statement urging the Centre to listen to the farmers as well as condoning the Centre for using extreme violence against peaceful protestors. The latter had indeed been a problem. Delhi and Haryana police, as well as paramilitary forces, had used extreme measures such as water cannons, tear gas, and lathi charge against the protesting farmers. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had allowed the police to barricade borders between Punjab and Haryana to stop farmers from the former entering the latter. Manohar had also allowed the digging of trenches to stop the protestors from moving to their target location. This has invited the criticism of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Amarinder Singh had reacted to certain statements made by the BJP-led government in Haryana. Manohar and many other members of his party from the state had claimed that the farmers are not “part of the Dilli Chalo march” but are instead “Khalistanis” that have appropriated the movement “to further their agenda”. Amarinder Singh denied such a statement and added that the State intelligence reports claim otherwise. Haryana government has also taken actions against many of the protestors, but the more notable one is Navdeep Singh. The Punjab youth had bravely scaled the police water cannon to turn it off so that it won’t hurt the protestors. However, the state police have charged him with “attempt to murder”.