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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Explained: How Haryana’s untiring support has given tenacity to farmers’ stir

Haryana has now taken centre stage in the farmers' protest with massive Kisan Mahapanchayats during the past two weeks. A look at the reasons behind the key role of Haryana farmers in the ongoing ]agitation

Written by Sukhbir Siwach |
Updated: February 24, 2021 9:43:35 am
Farmers stand atop tractors during a protest on an expressway at Kundli in Haryana, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. (AP Photo: Manish Swarup)

Till the first week of December last year, the farmer agitation in Haryana was limited to some parts of the state. But it has now taken centre stage with massive Kisan Mahapanchayats during the past two weeks. The Indian Express explains the reasons behind the key role of Haryana farmers in the ongoing agitation.

What led to massive mobilisation for farmer agitation in Haryana?

Haryana is primarily an agricultural state with almost 81 per cent of its land under agriculture. Officials say two-third population of the state is dependent on agriculture in the state. As many as 65 per cent people live in the rural areas in the state. A former officer of NABARD, S S Sangwan pointed out that almost 45 per cent workforce of the state is engaged in the agricultural activities in the state with 24.8 lakh cultivators and 15.28 lakh agricultural labourers.

“Agriculture is the base of the economy in Haryana with industries limited to only some areas of the state,” said Sangwan. With the dependence of a large population on agriculture, directly or indirectly, their emotions are attached with the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Ever since the contentious farm Bills were introduced, there were apprehensions in the mind of farmers and arhtiyas (commission agents) in mandis. After the campaign by farmer unions especially in Punjab, a feeling grew in the mind of Haryana farmers that the corporates will grab their land while the arhtiyas felt that the new laws will make the mandi system collapse. These circumstances prepared the ground and developments that took place before and after January 26 “tractor parade” fuelled the stir.

Why Haryana has a key role in farmers’ agitation

With Haryana touching the national capital from three sides, it is easier for the residents of the state to reach Delhi borders to join the protests there. “Any protest by two tractors in Delhi makes a bigger impact than by 100 tractors in a distant southern state. Any small event in Delhi easily grabs attention of national media and the government,” says a government officer. Further, it’s easier for the farmers in Haryana to keep visiting Delhi borders frequently and in rotation in comparison to those who live in Punjab and other distant states. In these circumstances, the support from Haryana farmers has become the backbone for the agitation to sustain it for long and spread it in other parts of the country especially in north India.

What do farmer leaders say about Haryana’s role?

The leaders of farmer outfits are satisfied with the support the agitation received during the ongoing stir in Haryana. They feel the agitation will expand further in the state with increasing participation of farmers from new areas. Haryana BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, “Haryana ke log jagte bahut der se hai, lekin jab jagte hain to sote usase bhi jyada der se hai (The people from Haryana awaken late but when they get up, they go to bed even later than that). At the moment, the role of Haryana is at number one in the country and I would request farmers to keep it on number one.”

Not only the Kisan Mahaanchayats have witnessed large turnouts in the state but even the candle marches, organised in support of the current agitation recently, too mobilised impressive gatherings in a large number of villages in the state.

What do BJP leaders feel in Haryana?

BJP leaders say they had apprehensions that the new laws will invite opposition from some quarters. But they admit that they had no idea that such mobilisation will take place on this issue. Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister J P Dalal said, “The traders and arhtiyas (commission agents) in mandis had started agitation in Haryana even before the introduction of farm laws. Slowly, the agitation was expanded. The participation of Haryana farmers in agitation is because of emotional factors because the word “kisan” makes them emotional. This agitation had started from Punjab. And because of this, the comrade, communist and red flag has shone for the first time in Haryana. There was a conspiracy to defame the country in this (agitation). Otherwise, why were the (mobile) towers broken in Punjab during the agitation.(to give an impression) that the law and order is not in order in our country. So that the investments don’t move to India from China. There is a deep-rooted conspiracy.”

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“There is nothing in the new laws which is binding on the farmers. The entire game is on assumption and presumption that this will happen, that will happen. If you are having a meal, and in addition kheer is also offered to you, you say throw it away. If you don’t want to have it, leave it. There was no issue of the farmer. The farmers themselves say that only 6 per cent of the crops are purchased at the rate of MSP (minimum support price) in our country and 80 per cent out of it is purchased in Haryana and Punjab. And the agitation too is taking place in Haryana and Punjab. It (agitation) is okay by the people of other states — where the crops are not purchased at the rate of MSP and they don’t get benefit of MSP — but what is justification of agitation here (in Punjab and Haryana). The (opposition) political parties, their supporters, traders, mandiwalas (arhtiyas) tried to run the agitation. The small farmers were misled that the mandi system will collapse and there will be no MSP system,” Dalal alleged.

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