Updated: January 23, 2021 7:51:10 am
With farmer unions rejecting the Centre’s offer to keep the new farm laws in abeyance for 18 months, many farmers at the Singhu border said their movement would be “futile” if they turn back now, especially with thousands more expected to join them by Republic Day.
Jang Singh (73), a farmer from Ambala in Haryana who has been at the Singhu border since the protest began, conceded that “the government’s offer to keep the laws in cold storage is definitely a win for us”, but added that “we will not go anywhere until the laws are repealed… even if that means we have to stay for a few months”.
Singh, whose children and grandchildren are also at the protest site now, said he has helpers to take care of his fields back home.
Affiliated to the Bharatiya Kisan Union, he said many more farmers from his district are leaving their homes to be a part of the march on January 26.
Harsh Gill (18), also from Ambala, said, “We cannot go back without a written guarantee that the laws will be repealed.”
While some said that they go home from time to time to tend to their fields, almost all said they will not stop protesting.
Gill said, “To fight the cold, we keep eating dry fruits and pinni that keep us warm. Our clothes are getting washed as there is a laundry service. We sleep well at night. Why will we leave until all our demands are met?”
Harminder Singh (38), a farmer from Hoshiarpur in Punjab who is affiliated to the Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said the government needs to repeal the laws. “We have come so far, there is no point returning home now.”
Four people from his 21-member family are at the protest site, said Harminder, adding that his wife and children visit on the weekends.
Hardeep Kaur (62) from Ludhiana, a member of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, said more women will also join the protest soon. “Our fathers and mothers who have been part of the freedom struggle have seen much worse than this. We draw inspiration from them and continue to fight for our rights here.”
At Ghazipur, Haseeb Ahmed (40), a farmer from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur who is associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said, “The government thought we would go back. But it is quite the opposite. We are now preparing to march to Delhi on January 26.”
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