Updated: February 12, 2021 4:15:02 am
CALLING THE agitation against farm laws the “biggest and longest ever protest in the country”, farmer union leaders addressing the first-ever ‘Mahapanchayat’ of Punjab in Jagraon constituency of Ludhiana Thursday, said none of them will go back without getting the laws
“Our bodies may come, but we will not come without winning,” said Kiranjeet Singh Sekhon from Kul hind Kisan Federation, while speaking from the dais, addressing a large gathering in the grain market of Jagraon. In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement, “MSP thi, MSP hai MSP rahegi”, the union leaders from the stage asserted “Assi datte si…assi datte haan…assi datte rahange…(we stood firm, we are standing firm and we will keep on standing firm)”.
This ‘Mahapanchayat’ was an effort by farmer unions to depict their unity because for the first time, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan shared stage with 30 farmer union leaders where they also addressed the masses.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of BKU Rajewal who addressed the masses last, said, “Assi aandolan jitange…assi aandolan jittange…assi aandolan jitange…(we will win the aandolan) However, I want to assert to all of you that if we remain peaceful…we will win and if any violence happens…Modi will win…After January 26 episode, aandolan suffered a setback…but it took just two days to people to understand the chronology and again started moving towards Delhi borders, let this movement continue. Let us be the strength at all the borders be it Singhu, Tikri, Palwal, Shahjahanpur and even Ghazipur…I bow before all of you for being the main force behind this movement…we all started it, later Haryana joined it. It was followed by UP, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan and now the whole country and our PM still says…it is a morcha only of Punjab.”
He further said, “In the 11 meetings with union ministers we were asked as what is wrong in these laws…we discussed each and every clause not once but repeatedly and told them the mistakes, which they said they will amend. We told them why amend, take them back…iss kanoon di ek ek line kali hai…taan hi eh kaale kanoon han…kende ha…daal main kuchh kala hai…par eh taan poori daal hi kaali hai…(every line of this law is black…that’s why they are black laws…) And it is really surprising that now Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar was saying in Parliament that we could not tell them even one flaw.”
He added, “In the meetings, we were told by one leader that we should suggest so many changes in these laws that they should become totally ineffective, but ministers repeatedly told us that we should not seek a repeal, otherwise labour laws amendments, Article 370, CAA/NRC…there are so many things and tomorrow someone else will come and sit here. I told them…why not get rid of all the sins in one go? They got uncomfortable.”
Targeting the PM, he said, “In Rajya Sabha, PM literally abused us in a diplomatic manner when he called as aandolanjeevi and parjeevi i.e we live on aandolans and we are parasites…when his words were criticised world over, on Wednesday he said that farmers’ protest is pure, government respects their voice. Who can trust this PM, he changes his statements too frequently.”
Rajewal even recalled that in October 2017, he had attended a meeting of NITI Aayog: “The discussion was on contract farming with large chunks of land and no interference of farmers, except for taking the contract amount…the farmer can however work as a labourer in the fields…I had strongly objected at that meeting as well and had told them that they will not be able to handle Punjab-Haryana alone if such a thing happens, perhaps they suspended the matter at that time and came back with ordinances in June, last year…A senior BJP leader had even told them to get the matter resolved at the earliest as the nature of Punjabi farmer is that he/she will not move back…the same happened and the whole country is on one platform…”
Ugrahan, who was brief in his speech, said, “It is a platform to show our unity despite the fact that we may have different thoughts. However, I must say that the aandolan has made our youth so confident and they themselves have wiped away the slur of being called ‘addicts’. We could not see even a single youngster at Delhi borders who was an addict. They could be seen doing langar sewa, making multiple rounds on tractors to bring people from villages, maintaining discipline and doing so many duties…Same peace needs to be maintained even now…josh de naal hosh rehna bhot zaruri hai.., it is time for all of us to continue gathering people at Delhi borders to show our strength to the PM .We are not going to come back…till the time laws are not taken back…that is crystal clear.”
Ugrahan said that the government was trying to “impose a globally failed model” of the agricultural system on farmers. Over 80 per cent of farmers, especially small cultivators, will lose their landholdings to corporates because of the laws, he claimed. “We will not allow these laws to be implemented,” he said.
“In a family, four persons can have an argument at times, but in this aandolan, 42 unions have walked together and we are still together,” said Satnam Singh, another leader from Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).
Rajewal, while concluding the ‘Mahapanchayat’, said, “BJP wants to divide us on the basis of religion…government has only one agenda…to
speak lies again and again so as to make people believe that it is truth. However, we are ready for a long haul…we have given this message to the government not once but repeatedly.”
Rajewal said that the movement has now achieved international importance as it has been discussed in the Parliament of New Zealand and Australia. “The US President has not even made a customary call to our PM after taking oath. This budget also has no relief for farmers, not even for common man…only relief for the corporate sector,” he added.
Farmer union leader Inderjeet Singh told villagers not to impose any fine on people who are unable to come to Delhi…and spread awareness on a regular basis. “We should not give any chance to the Modi government to take it in another direction,” he added.
While there was no power back-up generator at the rally venue from SKM’s side, the power went off 2-3 times.
The main gate of the grain market had been closed by police citing security reasons, due to which people coming from Ludhiana, Moga and Barnala could enter after police demolished a part of the wall of the grain market to allow entry of people.
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