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Farmers Protests: Determined to fight on, farmers say easy to sustain momentum than rebuild it afresh

Another factor behind their determination is that despite Centre’s allegations of infiltration of the ‘Khalistanis’ in their movement, the agitation has not been affected. The other big factor is that a narrative has taken hold at the ground that their land is not safe under the new laws.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
January 16, 2021 12:04:08 pm
Farmers Protests, Farm Bills 2020, Farm Laws 2020, Singhu, Tikri, Chandigarh city news, Indian ExpressLastly, with major farm job now only slated for April at the time of the harvest, farmers feel that the timing is right for staying in the fight. (Express Photo by Ganjendra Yadav)

Despite several rounds of talks with the Centre and intervention of the country’s top court, protesting farmers are not willing to step back in their fight against the three contentious farm laws. Farmers, according to experts, believe that it is easier to sustain momentum of the huge people’s movement than to rebuild it in case they agree to return to their homes right now.

The opposition started on June 5 when the ordinances were brought, pointed out experts, adding that the momentum has only increased since then with the Delhi Chalo movement making over 500 farm outfits closing ranks. The laws passed despite farmers’ resentment have made the agitators doubt government’s intensions.

“Farmers are now aware that had the intentions of Centre’s been fair, then it would have had handed over the matter to the select or any other committee of Parliament before turning them into laws. Everyone is aware that what had happened in Rajya Sabha when opposition demanded handing over of the Bills to Parliament committee for discussion,” said Prof Gian Singh, former Economics Professor in Punjabi University Patiala, adding that now farmers will not be settled for less than the repeal of these because no one knows that what recommendations would be given by the committee formed by the Apex Court.

“Farmers have already said that the committee members are for the Acts. If the recommendations given by this committee are not acceptable to the farmers, then will the farmers go back to Delhi to get their demand accepted?” he questioned.

Farmer leader Satnam Singh Saini said: “We are getting this determination from the acts and language of the Centre as our detailed letter to the Centre carrying objections in the three laws was more than enough to get these cancelled, but the government is looking for one or other ways to return us and this will not work.”

“This is the time when farmers are getting all-round support for their justified demands not only from the farming community but from the people of all walks of life and most importantly the common man is with the farmers today and extending every support by visiting their protest sites, extending several yeoman services to support the farmers in such a harsh weather,” said another expert from the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, who is not willing to be named.

According to farm expert Professor Kesar Singh Bhangu: “They know that once they return from Delhi, which the Centre wants, they (farm union) will not do such a big protest. Currently, they are settled at a place which is far away from the comfort of a home but still a momentum has been going on and it can be continued for coming several weeks. But returning and then going back would be more hazardous act and this is what has made them more determined to stay put till their demands are not met.”

Another factor behind their determination is that despite Centre’s allegations of infiltration of the ‘Khalistanis’ in their movement, the agitation has not been affected.

The other big factor is that a narrative has taken hold at the ground that their land is not safe under the new laws.

“Even if one asks from an uneducated farmer and a farm woman that why they were protesting their first reply would be ‘don’t you know the government is going to hand over our land to the big ‘gharanas (corporates) through these laws’. They will tell you that these laws would, in the end, make them just labourers for big factories that will grab their land,” said a senior field officer in the Agriculture Department, adding that when it comes to their land the determination gets multiplied manifold and they will not let their lands go.

While the focus stays at the Delhi border protests, the protest at the village level have also continued and that these agitations farm activists in every speech highlight how the land of farmers in danger of be usurped by the corporates.

Lastly, with major farm job now only slated for April at the time of the harvest, farmers feel that the timing is right for staying in the fight.

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