The farmers’ protest, currently going strong at the borders of the nation’s capital, is not the first large scale movement in the country. However, it has brought to the fore many of the underlying problems that have been with the BJP-led Centre in recent years. Mainly, the farmers are focussing on the three farm laws that the Centre had enacted but they are also discussing many of the problems that have plagued farmers for a long time.
In the latest struggle, the people of the nation were able to see how the Centre would deal with such a protest. Police from Haryana and Delhi used extreme violence against the peaceful protestors. At the first stage, the police used barricades and blocks to stop the movement in its tracks, but seeing as how that didn’t work, they used water cannons and tear gas at them. While they are considered non-lethal, they aren’t exactly the kind of measures one would use against peaceful protestors. Moreover, the Centre mobilised paramilitary forces and resorted to lathi charges against the farmers. One would imagine a natural antagonistic stand between the two. However, come nightfall that wasn’t the case.
The farmers while feeding themselves off the resources they brought with them, they also provided food to the police officials there. Many BJP leaders had accused the farmers’ protest of being “misguided” and of being “hijacked by Khalistanis”. The sight on Saturday night proved them false. The farmers are not willing to back down either. They have told reporters that they are willing to be at the border for six months and more if they have to. While the Centre had opened up Burari for their protests, the farmers believe that blocking the highway would be more impactful for them.
The farmers turned to songs praising “Mother Earth”, protest songs, and chants to motivate their movement. Apart from that, they are also prepared to deal with any strategies that the police have planned. The protestors have assigned youths to man the tractors and to see if mounted police arrive in the night to attack them. If so, the youth would turn on the tractor lights and sound the horns to scare the horses. Moreover, they have also used the tractors to break open barricades. Another incident of barricading was when police seized container filled with resources being transported to different states such as Kerala and crossed them to block the path of the protestors. However, the containers were let go after the leaders of the movement raised their concern.
The protest also comprises of many other organisations as well as students, who believe that the movement is very crucial to the nation. The students are here not just as witnesses but also as one of the participants. Many of the students are from farming families, others sympathise with the movement, and a few others are part of student politics. While many have raised concern regarding the cold and Covid pandemic, the farmers said that right now this movement is more important to them than Covid-19. They explain that to thousands of farmers, the fear of debts and below par social schemes are more a threat to their life and livelihood than the virus. They are willing to fight it out and fight it out they will.