The intensity of farmers’ protest in Uttarakhand against the three new farm laws is increasing with the protesters insisting that they will march to the borders of New Delhi to join protesters from other states.
The intensity of the protest has increased especially in the US Nagar district which has a sizable number of Sikhs, many of whom are farmers. The farmers’ passion was evident on December 25 when more than 1,000 farmers heading towards the Delhi border clashed with a heavy police force that was deployed to stop them at Bazpur.
The farmers broke through the barricades on their tractor injuring some policemen. The videos and photographs of the incident made rounds on social media. Later the district police booked about 1,500 unidentified farmers on charges of rioting and stopping police from doing their duty. However, no arrests have been made so far. Many of the farmers who broke through the barricades eventually reached Ghazipur on Delhi’s eastern border where a large number of protesters have already pitched camp.
Farmers and Sikh organisations supporting them have now decided to join the agitating farmers near Delhi in larger numbers.
“In no way we are going to stop our agitation against the farm laws. After a call by the farmer organisations to head Delhi on December 25, we did that by breaking the police barricades. Now, soon again a similar call is going to be given on which more number of farmers are going to head towards Delhi,” said Gurbaz Singh Virk, US Nagar district president United Sikh Federation who is agitating with the farmers of the district at Ghazipur on Delhi’s border since December 25.
Virk said the farmers have drawn a strategy on “how to gather more farmers from all over the state to head to Delhi.”
“We have divided all the 13 districts into sectors. From there the farmers would gather in US Nagar and prepare to head to the Delhi border while waiting for the next call of our leaders,” he said.
Gurinder Singh Sahni, another farmer from US Nagar agitating against the farm laws, expressed his anger against the government for deploying a large number of police to stop them.
“First this government tried to threaten the farmers against the protest by filing a case. Then they deployed a significant police force at the state border with barricades to stop us. What does all this signify? Are we criminals?” said Sahni.
Lashing out at the BJP government in Uttarakhand, he said, “When even the Supreme Court had said that the farmers should not be stopped from protesting then why is the government stopping us using the police? We are not going to stop our protest and soon head towards Delhi again.”
Sahni said that the Gurudwara management committees or Gurudwara prabandhak committees of the local gurudwaras in US Nagar have also extended their support to the protesting farmers.
“We farmers have a very pious relation with Gurudwara because as per Sikhism’s teachings we offer about 10% of our total produce to the Gurudwara’s langar service. Citing this tradition, the Gurudwara prabandhak committee members said that they would fully support us wherever we go,” said Sahni.
Amid the ongoing protest by farmers, the Opposition Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Uttarakhand have also put their weight behind the farmers to attack the ruling BJP.
On Sunday, Congress state unit in-charge Dushyant Yadav, party state president Pritam Singh and party MLA and All India Congress committee secretary Qazi Nizamuddin joined the agitating farmers at Delhi’s Ghazipur border. The leaders also addressed the farmers’ gathering there.
“Since the day the three laws were passed, we have been saying that these are black laws to kill the farmers’ rights. We are against them and fully support the farmers in their protest till they would be repealed,” said Pritam Singh.
AAP’s MP from Punjab and senior party leader Bhagwant Mann is scheduled to arrive in Uttarakhand on a two-day tour which begins on Tuesday. He is scheduled to hold a rally and address farmers in US Nagar district where the protest has been intense.
The ruling BJP however, accused both the parties of “misleading the farmers and trying to find oxygen for themselves through the farmers’ agitation.”
“Both the parties are trying to involve in the farmers’ protest because they don’t have any political ground left in Uttarakhand. Hence, using the protest they are trying to find oxygen for their political lives here,” said Rajendra Bhandari, BJP state general secretary.
“As far as the farm laws are concerned, PM Modi on December 25 cleared many misconceptions regarding it. Government is even talking to the farmer organisations on the issue but these two parties are misleading them,” Bhandari added.