Farmers coming back to protest site

Farmers are seen during a protest on new farm law issue at Singhu border, in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Protesting farmers on the Singhu border said crowds were coming back to the protest site after the harvest season and they were going strong despite the raging pandemic. Id prayers were also offered by Muslim protesters on Friday.

Sukwinder Singh Barwa from Ropar said that though the crowd — as compared to the beginning of the protest — had less than halved during the harvest season, people were slowly starting to come back together. “A group with over 250 tractors and trucks reached on May 10 and another group came on May 12. People are coming back because the harvest season is over,” he said.

Lockdown hurdle

Guramrit Mehma from Ferozabad, who was at the protest till recently and was currently at home, said he had not been able to come because there was a lockdown in Haryana. “COVID situation in Delhi is bad but even if we want to go, we can’t because of lockdown,” he said.

Mr. Barwa, however, said that even if people come in groups, they were not being stopped. “The COVID situation is indeed bad but for some reason, people at the protest are not getting infected. While we all take precautions but the older generation still doesn’t believe in them. They don’t keep washing hands and don’t sanitise. Some of them wrap their head scarfs around their nose and mouth,” he said.

The main langars are continuing. “The speeches start at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. after which there is a break for two hours and then religious chantings of all faiths continue,” said Parminder Singh from Ludhiana.

Mr. Parminder Singh said there was “no question” of the protest coming to a stop at any point unless a solution in their favour was reached. “The BJP’s rule can end but not this protest till the demands are met,” he said.

People at the protest sites continue to make concrete structures for their lodging. “It looks like they won’t leave for the next few years,” he said.

Kamaljeet Singh from Patiala said it was unfortunate that the government was not ready to engage with the protesting farmers despite the pandemic. “About 450 farmers have died and a pandemic is going on, taking so many lives but the government doesn’t wish to start a dialogue with us. We will soon be completing six months here,” he said.

Morcha slams CM

Referring to Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar’s “appeal” to farmers to end the protest, stating that few villages had become COVID-19 hotspots because of the protesting farmers coming and going to protest sites, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, in a statement on Friday, said, “Instead of introspecting about his administration’s failure in setting up adequate healthcare facilities and services in the State, he chose to put the blame of COVID-19 spread on protesting farmers. The SKM condemns his statement and points out that the protests have remained largely free of the pandemic.”

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 10:09:11 AM |

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