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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Around Rewari protest site, a split among villagers

A group of protesters had set up camp at the Masani barrage for the past month, after moving through barricades at Haryana-Rajasthan border on December 31.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
February 4, 2021 1:06:57 am
Protesters at Shahjahanpur, near the border. (Express photo)

While residents of several villages in Rewari have been demanding the removal of farmers from the Haryana-Rajasthan border, other villages in the district have increased their support for the agitation.

A group of protesters had set up camp at the Masani barrage for the past month, after moving through barricades at Haryana-Rajasthan border on December 31. They returned to the border, where there have been protests since early December, following an ultimatum from local residents last week. However, residents turned up at the border on Saturday seeking removal of the remaining protesters.

This, coupled with dwindling numbers at the site, had emerged as a cause of concern for leaders. In the last few days, however, the numbers began to build up again.

Sanjay Madhav of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha said: “Some people had come just for the tractor parade, so our numbers were expected to reduce. However, the movement has received fresh impetus in the last few days as the harassment meted out to protesters at other sites has been noticed, and as it has become clearer that what happened on Republic Day was a planned conspiracy. A call has gone out to strengthen the movement.”

“There has been an attempt to create an impression that local residents are against us but this effort has backfired. To counter this narrative, residents of many villages have come here in larger numbers to show this is not true and that we are carrying out this protest with their support… We are expecting many more people to arrive in the coming week from other states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat,” he said.

Among those supporting the movement is the Nehra Khap, headed by Satnarayan Nehra, which is contributing ration, including milk and lassi, to the protesters. “There were some anti-social elements who wanted to weaken the farmers’ movement. They had gone to Masani demanding that the site be vacated, but this is just a small number… As a perception is being created that locals don’t support farmers, around 2,000 people from Rewari villages had gone to the protest site last week to show their solidarity,” said Nehra.

“Most residents completely support farmers, villages like Tihara, Rampura, Kishanpura… all of us are with farmers and we are going to the site every day,” he said.

Among those who want the farmers gone is the panchayat of Jaisinghpur Khera village, where the protest site is located. Residents have become more vocal about this demand after January 26. Said panchayat member Vedpal, “Our issues are not related to Republic Day, we have been facing problems because of the protest for many weeks now. All traffic from the highway is diverted through our villages; the protesters are breaking our crops; petrol pumps and hotels located along the expressway are not getting any business… All of this is affecting our day-to-day life.”

“Most villages here do not support the protesters, but nobody is heeding our demands. They have a lot of support from villages in Rajasthan… we all are against them and want the site cleared,” he said.

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