As protest continues, farmers recall how it started in Punjab

It was between 12.30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on November 27, 2020 when thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana who were marching towards Delhi’s Ramlila Ground were stopped by Delhi police at Singhu village, claimed Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur district who is a member of the Krantikari Kisan Union in Punjab.

“We reached Haryana from Gurdaspur on the night of November 25. Police had barricaded the area to stop our movement. With the help of local farmers, we managed to cross the state somehow. Our plan was to reach Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Ground in Delhi.”

Gurmeet added that they were prepared for a protest till one and a half months. We had carried our food for that period. For one week, we prepared our own food and then Langar was established. We faced no difficulties since then, he said.

The farmers in tractors and other vehicles were heading towards Delhi with the slogan – ‘Dilli Chalo’. “Dilli Chalo’ was a part of our movement against the three farms bills enacted by the Centre. Farmers unions of Punjab and Haryana had given this slogan to move toward Delhi,” Gurmeet said claiming he was one among those thousands of farmers who are sitting at Singhu village.

As of Saturday, it’s more than 80 days since the farmers have been sitting at Singhu border. Since then (November 26, 2020) the National Highway (Delhi-Chandigarh) has remained blocked at Singhu. Many villagers in Singhu and Singhola seemed clueless about when the farm protest will end and they would find the road operational and reopen their shops.

The farmers have also been sitting on protest since over 70 days at two other borders of the national capital – Tikri village (Delhi-Haryana border and Ghazipur (Delhi-UP border).

However, there are (at Singhu village protest site ) many farmers from several districts of Punjab who claimed they have been agitating against the farms bills since September 2020.

Satnam Singh Pannu, president (Punjab) of Kisan Majdoor Sangharsh Committee, talking to IANS said that soon after the Acts (three farm laws) were introduced, farmers unions in Punjab and Haryana had started opposing them.

The agitation against the farm bills in Punjab began when the farmers leaders initiated a movement in the villages. “Farmers leaders held meetings with panchayat heads and gradually other people also started supporting our agitation against the farm bills. To make the movement strong, people were explained the reality about the three farms laws. People from all sections began supporting farmers unions. Similarly, the movement grew in Haryana also.”

The first sign of protest against the Central farm laws appeared on September 7, 2020 when farmers unions called a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ across Punjab. It continued till September 13. Pamphlets were circulated in the villages by local farmers leaders and village heads. People were taken into confidence to join the movement.

After that, from September 14 to 16, farmers had blocked highways near the Satluj, Beas and Ravi rivers. On September 24, the Delhi-Amritsar railway track was blocked by the farmers under the banner of Kisan Majdoor Sangharsh Committee, which resulted in the suspension of many trains.

“Farmers unions had started peaceful protests but when there was no response from the government, they decided to move towards Delhi and gave the Delhi Chalo slogan. Since then, we are here. But still, the government is not ready to fulfil our demands. We will not move from here until the farm laws are repealed,” said Satnam Singh Pannu.

On February 14, the farmers unions have announced a candle march to remember the personnel martyred in the Pulwama attack. On February 18, there is a Rail Roko Abhiyan call across the country.