Thursday saw nearly 3,000 khet mazdoors (farm labourers) reach Delhi’s Tikri and Singhu borders in about 50 vehicles from Punjab. The farm labourers from Muktsar, Sangrur, Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Barnala, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts are marching under the banner of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU), which is working in coordination with the BKU (Ugrahan).
“While labourers had been going to the Delhi borders in trolleys with farmers, this is the first time that such a large, single batch has left. They left in buses, tempos and vans,” said Zora Singh Nasrali, president PKMU.
“We will be staying at Tikri on January 8 and at Singhu border on January 9 before starting back for Punjab on January 10. Earlier, the labourers were busy in cotton picking in Punjab and Rajasthan’s fields and they came back to their villages only recently. Moreover, a number of them were not convinced that they need to participate in this movement, which is focusing on the three farm laws as they considered them farmer oriented,” added Nasrali.
He added that the labourers were convinced to take part in the stor after being informed how the three laws will also affect them. “More such batches will go to Delhi borders if the demands are not met by the Centre,” added Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of PKMU.
The convoy of the khet mazdoor was welcomed in Bathinda by various unions of teachers, employees and students. The convenor of these unions, Varinder Singh, also presented a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to the PKMU.
Tarsem Singh Khundehalal, travelling with the convoy said,”To create a divide, it is being said that dalits are not part of this struggle. Now, we are here at Delhi border to answer that allegation.”
Harbhagwan Moonak from Moonak area of Sangrur district said, “If contract farming is allowed, the khet mazdoors will be equally affected”.
Apart from farm labourers, members of the Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee (ZPSC), an organisation of landless farm labourers, will be going to Delhi on January 23.Mukesh Malaud, president of ZPSC, said, “Around 7,000 of our members — all landless farm labourers — will be going to Delhi. They too are going to be equally affected (by the farm laws). We will sit on a separate road at Delhi to mark our presence rather than merging with the gathering there”.