Around 150 farmers have been protesting against the three farm bills at the Haryana-Rajasthan border on the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway since Sunday. Stopped from moving towards Delhi, they decided to protest at the spot and set up camp on the Jaipur-Delhi carriageway — with blankets, ration and groceries to last six months, and firewood to keep the winter chill at bay.
While most are from Rajasthan, there are also some from Punjab and Haryana at the spot. “The cold does not bother us; we are all farmers,” said Vijay Singh Chauhan from Alwar. “We have come with mattresses and warm blankets and clothes. We also have a lot of wood for fires.”
Covid farmers said, also pales in comparison to their problems.
Said Jagdish Singh, also from Alwar, “Even at home, there is a risk of getting Covid. But there is the additional risk of our livelihood being lost because of these laws. What will be the point of protecting ourselves from the virus when we all sink into poverty; what answer will we give our children?”
“Our main problem is MSP… We do not want to take anything the government says at face value. Even during the lockdown, they had said workers would get money, landlords cannot force people to pay rent — none of it was true on the ground,” he said.
Farmers said they have come prepared with ration and provisions to last six months. With places like Neemrana and Alwar close by, they said groceries and vegetables are being replenished.
“We have stocked up on ration at homes of different people in Neemrana,” said a protester serving puri and aloo for lunch. “Locals also provide us with some food. But this is likely to be a long-term scenario and we cannot expect them to do so for long.”
Among the protesters, mostly men, were four women — two mothers and their teenage daughters, who are students.
One of them, a second-year B.Com student, said, “My father is a member of the panchayat in our village in Rajasthan, but we have come to support the farmers. I am not missing anything in college as my classes are online, which I attend from here.”
Yogendra Yadav, national president of Swaraj India, who has been leading the protesters, said they will continue to remain there until police allow them to march to Delhi or their demands are met: “We have no intention of pushing our way through. We will continue peacefully.”
Superintendent of Police Abhishek Jorwal said around 300 personnel had been deployed to ensure law and order: “The protesters are seated at the border and the situation remains peaceful. We have one Rapid Action Force team and two companies of CISF deployed, in addition to our own district police.”
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