Updated: February 15, 2021 6:16:17 am
The farmers’ protest against the three farm laws have been garnering support from far and wide– not leaving behind the youth of the country. Such participation of the youth in a mass movement was perhaps last witnessed following the Mandal commission report.
Now, as the winter sun retreats on cold January evenings, the sight of women, retired army, and PU hostellers, art community and the youth from schools and local colleges in significant numbers at the Matka Chowk adds life to the lifeless art installation added to the roundabout recently.
Zabeen (12), a student of Vivek High School, says, “Every voice counts. Even if you are fighting for something all alone, someday it will be noticed. If I participate by standing for the farmers’ rights, others will notice and would want to know what’s wrong with the laws. Everyone can help make a difference. If we all start thinking that a person alone can’t make a difference, change will never happen. To me, protesting means showing that you disagree with something. In the case of the farmers, they are protesting peacefully. If the protestors themselves have not given up, why should we? They left the comfort of their homes to fight for their rights. They have been protesting peacefully at the border for months now and are still going strong, only because they have not lost hope. So yes, I do think that someday and hopefully soon, we will see light at the end of the tunnel.”
The 12-year-old’s knowledge of the issue drives her to the protests every evening, where her friends accompany her too.
A student of Welham’s Boys School Zorawar Singh Bedi also has lots to say. “My family has been farming for several generations and my father and grandfather were in the Indian Army too and I feel farmers are not anti-nationals, they are fighting for their right,” he says.
On the right to protest, Bedi adds, “Protesting mean people disagree with a law, rule, etc. People protest to make the organisations or the governments aware of the matter. They protest by signing petitions, blocking roads, conducting dharnas, etc. If either side are unreasonable, a protest can become violent.”
Dissecting the law and stating his understanding of its drawbacks, Bedi says, “The farmers are protesting against the law, as they want a minimum support price (MSP) on crops which the government has not mentioned in the Act. The farmers are afraid that the Mandi system will be abolished. The Mandi system enables them to go to the mandi to sell their crop and they have to pay a little tax there and the government buys the crop from the mandis. They are also protesting as the government is largely favoring the private companies and the farmers are afraid that the artiyas will also be abolished . Artiyas are the middlemen the farmers sell their crop to in the mandi at a certain rate– which is not always reasonable, the farmers also take loans, etc. from these artiyas.”
He adds, “The government thinks that the artiyas are looting the farmers by giving unreasonable prices and taking extra interest on the loans they take. This law for reasons unknown has not been thoroughly discussed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and has been passed by ordinance, this also is a reason that the farmers are protesting.”
On the need to show solidarity with the protests, a young Bedi says, “It is tough for one person to make a difference and make the government aware of the problems of a farmer, but if thousands of people come together it will make a difference and now it has come to the notice of the government. The sun will rise and that it must else no one but the farmers of Punjab could have given a wake-up call to this particular Government.”
The protests have been a harbinger of hope for many who have been resenting the central government’s policies such as demonetization , GST, and the Citizenship Amendment Act.
On the wide-spread reach and support for the farmers protests, Harjinder Brar, the brain behind Panjab Bespoke (a clothing brand) and also the producer of Kisan Anthem 2, says, “I believe that the farmers protest is now not just limited to the farmers, but has become a mass movement. People from all walks of life are coming in support of the farmers and are raising their voices against the injustice being done by the government. These protests occurring throughout the Tri-city is their way of showing support for the movement. People who have personal work during the day and can’t join the protest at the Delhi borders, come out on streets in the evenings to show their support. This in turn boosts up the confidence of protesters at the borders when they get know that the even general public is supporting their cause.”
Bollywood singer Diljit Dosanjh has also been voicing in support of the movement, encouraging youths to participate and show solidarity.
Meanwhile, the NRIs too have been defying the common beliefs surrounding them, that the Indians living in a foreign land are detached from the ground realities. While singer Sidhu Mossewala did contribute in dismissing a lot of those beliefs, the protests have been constantly attracting people from various social ethos and age groups.
Karanbir Singh, a resident of Mississauga in Toronto shares, “These are our brothers and sisters, how can we watch their organs freezing to death? I know that some of us do not understand the farm laws but why would our kith and kin have to go through this treatment at the behest of the government. The PM has clearly made it an ego issue. We shall never let the movement die. That’s the reason we contribute whatever we can. If the visas were easy, we would have ensured the border protest begin at Dappar toll plaza.”
The protests have been garnering support from across the globe. There was a reason to the Khalsa Aid Foundation folding its hands to more donations.
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