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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Punjab: No Black Diwali, protesting farmers hold mashaal march

Thirty farmer organisations had held a meeting with the Centre on November 13. Their next meeting is on November 21. Before that, kisan unions will hold their own meeting on November 18. The Railways has suspended trains in Punjab since October 24.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | November 16, 2020 12:00:07 am
Punjab: No Black Diwali, protesting farmers hold mashaal marchDiyas too were lit at the protest sites, i.e. at toll plazas, petrol pumps and outside railway stations, with messages such as `struggle for lights' and 'Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabaad'.(Representational Image)

Mashalan bal ke chalna, jado tak raat baki hai. Sambhal ke har kadam rakhna, jado tak vaat baki hai (Walk with torches lit, till the night is there. Be cautious at every step, till the entire distance is traversed).

It was a mashaal march for protesting farmers on Diwali night instead of a Black Diwali, and these lines were sung at every march in villages and cities.

Diyas too were lit at the protest sites, i.e. at toll plazas, petrol pumps and outside railway stations, with messages such as `struggle for lights’ and ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabaad’.

Vicky Mahesari, national general secretary of All Indian Student Federation who was at Moga railway station, said, “We had kept a huge mashaal (torch) outside Moga railway station with Bhagat Singh’s poster along with a message that our struggle is for lights, i.e. till our demands on farm laws are not met, we will continue with our struggle.”

Kuldeep Bhola, a member of Kul Hind Kisan Union, said, “Our message was to celebrate the festival by lighting torches so as to keep the struggle alive as festivals are important to keep communal harmony alive. Hence, we celebrated Diwali at morchas in a unique way and also gave a message to the Central government that our struggle is alive. We also raised slogans about our November 26-27 Delhi Chalo programme at these marches.”

The mashaal march was organised at more than 100 places of protest sites and in more than 100 villagesl. Wearing jackets and draped in shawls, the farmers continued to walk for three-four km at every march site in Sangrur, Mansa, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Moga, Khanna, Raikot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Bathinda, Muktsar and Barnala and in many villages as well.

“We started morchas when it was summer. Now winter has come. We have switched over from summer wear to winter wear. But governments are still taking time to listen to us. Industrialists are upset over their losses. But we are not getting any pleasure by sleeping on roads. We too want to spend nights peacefully in our houses. If we are on roads, it means something. Industry must understand this and support us,” said Manjeet Dhaner, farmer leader of BKU (Dakaunda) while addressing farmers at Sangrur. Minor children, women and teenagers too took part in these mashaal marches.

Thirty farmer organisations had held a meeting with the Centre on November 13. Their next meeting is on November 21. Before that, kisan unions will hold their own meeting on November 18. The Railways has suspended trains in Punjab since October 24.

The farmers had to vacate the dharna sites on roads on Sunday evening after it started raining. “Our dharnas will be back on roads once the rain is over,” said Jagseer Singh, a farmer at Bathinda.

Jagmohan Singh Patiala, working committee member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee, said, “Mashaal march was organised in more than 100 villages on Diwali night and at all the protest dharnas — more than 100 places — by various organisations. Hence, a larger message to farmers was to celebrate the festival, stay united and continue with struggle. We seek support from people living in urban areas as well.”

However, Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee, which has a strong presence in Majha area, observed black Diwali by holding black flags. This committee was not part of the meeting called by the Centre as their members had refused to attend this meeting saying it will not yield any result.

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