New Delhi: Jam packed Delhi borders, where tens of thousands of protesting farmers were demonstrating against Centre’s newly formed farm laws since November 26, now only half the number has remained around Ghazipur and Singhu borders.
The farmers who had been braving all the odds from the past 83 days, many of the farmers are now on their way back to the villages. Now as the protest seems to fizzle out, farmers said it is since it is clear that this is going to be a long battle, having less crowd at the borders is part of their new strategy, which is based on spreading the agitation. The focus is now on holding massive rallies across states to garner support for the agitation.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait has reportedly planned ‘mahapanchayats’ across the country for which he is expected to attend a series of such meetings in Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan over the next 10 days.
Till now, 11 rounds of talks between government and protesting farmers have taken place with no breakthrough in sight, as neither side is ready to back down. Where, the farmers have refused to accept government’s offer of an 18-month hold on the three laws while negotiations continue, farmers turned down Centre’s proposal while asking for a complete repeal of the laws. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the proposal stands.
“What if 10 lakh people gather here? Will the government take back these laws? We will protest in the entire country, in all the districts our people are spreading. Meetings are taking place,” said Rakesh, a protesting farmer.
“At first, the agitation was centralized at the borders, keeping in mind the stubbornness of the government,” said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, a spokesperson of the Ghazipur Protest Committee, adding that, “The farmer leaders are changing their strategy as well, so that the protest can reach every house in every village. We are holding Mahapanchayats at different locations.”
“We need to utilize the energy of the youth, so while spreading the word, the farmers can also carry on with their work. Now it is not just the border but a farmer in his field is also equally part of it,” added Mr Bajwa.
Farmer leaders also claim that farmers are always available to arrive at the borders within a short notice. “At the Ghazipur border, whenever we need numbers. 1 lakh people can come within a day,” further added Mr Bajwa.
Demonstrators taking part in the agitation say decentralization of the agitation an important step. “In Punjab, Haryana and other places there have been smaller agitations. Now they are intensifying,” said Ramon Magsaysay awardee and activist Sandeep Pandey.
“Decentralization is happening, rallies happening in Bihar, farmers of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Awadh, can’t come on tractor so we are planning smaller events there as well,” he added.
So far, Punjab and Haryana have been the epi-centre of the protests, while farmers in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have participated to a lesser extent. There have also been some participation in other states like Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.