Farmers who will be marching to Delhi on November 26-27 to press the central government to scrap the three farm laws said if they are stopped by the authorities, they will ensure that all roads leading to National Capital from the neighbouring states are blocked.
“Haryana farmers will block the National Highway (in that state) towards Delhi side. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh will also block the roads leading to Delhi in case they are stopped. In such a scenario, will be locked from all sides by farmers from across the country. We will sit on dharnas wherever we are stopped. We will carry along ration, tents, mattresses, quilts… We are used to sleeping on roads and will continue to sleep on roads. Farmers from across the country, not only from Punjab, will sleep on roads wherever they are stopped during the march to Delhi. It is upto to the Centre to take a call on what they want to do,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal).
The Delhi government has denied permission to farmers to stage any rally at either the Ram Leela Ground or at Jantar Mantar. The farmers, however, are adamant on marching to the national capital.
Amid reports that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to the Centre seeking permission to shutdown markets for a few days if crowding and violation of social distancing norms continue, farmers said they are not worried as “it is a matter of our very existence”.
All 30 farmers’ organisations from Punjab have announced to send `jathas’ as part of the Delhi Chalo protest march.
“Our entire focus is on the Delhi Chalo programme and that is why we have announced to lift our dharnas from outside all railway stations of Punjab by Monday, so that Railways can run their trains,” said Rajewal.
As Railways announces resuming the services in Punjab from Monday, there are apprehensions that Punjab farmers may get locked out when they move via road route if the Haryana government does not allow them to enter their state. Punjab farmers plan to enter Haryana via several routes in order to reach Delhi. It is being apprehended that Haryana, which has a BJP-JJP government, may seal its borders. In that case, Punjab farmers will sit on dharnas at the borders and it will eventually create problems for commuters from both the states,” said Rajewal.
He said, “We are not bothered by lockdowns in Delhi or night curfew in some states, which are being imposed in a hush hush manner ahead of the protest march. It is a question of our existence as farmers”.
Balbir Kaur, a BKU (Dakaunda) leader from Mansa, said, “In villages, women are holding separate meetings. Apart from the men, women and children too will be part of this morcha in large numbers. For us, it is like a war with Delhi over the farm laws. We never thought it would go this far, but now we are prepared”.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, the general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), the largest farmer union of Punjab, said jathas from more than 2000 villages will take part in the protest march. “We will be going, but we have not decided on a date to come back. During the two month-long agitation in Punjab, our women wings have strengthened like never before. Hence, we will be marching in lakhs to Delhi. The Centre has imposed farm laws on us, hence this march is against them. Either they give us a solution, or we will sit on roads for whatever duration Centre wants us to sit. We have the Punjabi spirit. Langar will be served on roads endlessly. We don’t fear sleeping on roads,” Kokrikalan said.
Meanwhile, Rajewal said, “One union (Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee) has not agreed to our decision (to lift blockade from train tracks), but that is between the government and that union. Moreover, if our demands are not met, we will again sit on tracks from December 10”.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, working committee member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said, “We have issued an appeal to the KSMC. They are already part of the Delhi Chalo programme, which is a bigger event…We need to understand the interests of Punjabis, as suspension of goods trains is causing harm to industry.”
Satnam Singh Pannu, president of KMSC, meanwhile, said, “We stand by our announcement that we will not allow passenger trains to run on tracks”.
Members of the union are sitting only at one point, at the park at Jandiala Guru railway station, on the outskirts of Amritsar.
Surjit Kumar Jyani, chairman of BJP panel to coordinate with farmers in Punjab, said, “I had already arranged one meeting of farmers with Union ministers on November 13 and I am hopeful that something will workout before their Delhi March. We are equally concerned for farmers.”