“We are here to fight for our rights,” protesting farmers say they won’t deter till farmer’s bills aren’t revoked

By Danish Pandit, TwoCircles.net

Thousands of Indian farmers are camping on roads leading to New Delhi, protesting against the new farm laws passed by the Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre.

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The protesting farmers, who also clashed with police at various places after being stopped to enter the national capital, claim that the new laws would lead to the corporatization of agriculture and deprive them of the assured minimum rates called Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

In September, the government passed three bills – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, stating that the new bills will help in increasing income of farmers and save them from the intervention of commissioning agents or middlemen.

The farmer bodies on the other hand accuse the government of leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

As the stand-off between the government and agitating farmers continues, TwoCircles.net visited several protesting sites where farmers are camped to know about their fear and concerns.

Manjit Singh 

 Manjit Singh is a sixty-year-old farmer from Shahkot, Jalandhar, Punjab.

Manjit said that his farming is his hereditary profession and they won’t leave it.

“We have been farming from ages. My father, grandfather and now my children are into this. This has been the source of our income. We live and survive on agriculture. They (government) are lying about the Arthi’s (the middlemen). The government says that middlemen are villains and they need to be removed from the system. But actually, they are the ones who help us in cultivation. We don’t have enough money for farming. They give us advance payments to raise crops. We know that the present government is trying to fool us with these statements but we won’t move until this law is rolled back,” he told TwoCircles.net.

Balraj Singh 

Balraj Singh, 45, from Sonipat, Haryana is a farmer but these days he has been patrolling in the night to ensure the safety of the protesting farmers.

“I patrol for the safety of protestors at night, each day. I am a farmer but for now a patrolman,” he told TwoCircles.net.

Balraj said that the farmers have already suffered huge losses in farming. “But now we won’t get back until the government reconstructs this law. We are prepared for at least 6 months as we have carried our daily essentials with us,” he said, adding, “The government is trying to deviate this issue by planning to shift us to Burrari ground, which is a hoax. We will block the highways and fight for our rights.”

Hardyal Singh

Seventy-two-year-old Hardyal Singh, from Moga, Punjab is a man of resolve. Commenting on the new laws and the farmers’ protest, he says, “We will die if this law isn’t revoked. We want to talk and explain our problems. But this government is arrogant,” he said, and added, “We had a meeting on 18 November where the government failed to explain this law. It’s not in any way beneficial to us but is against us. If the government does a deal of any product like aircraft, ships whatever, it’s also done through middlemen. Similarly, in our case, Arthis (middlemen) help us to keep our crops safe until it gets sold out. Don’t they have a right to earn? Why are they being targeted?

Harnek Singh

Harnek Singh, 68, of Bathinda, Punjab says the farmers are on the roads for a reason.

“We are here to fight. And fight we shall. We know we may be in for a long haul but that won’t deter us from moving back,” he said, adding, “Our movement has not started today. It’s been two months when it initially started in Punjab. This is a pure farmers’ movement and not sponsored by any organization. Some media channels are trying to build fake narratives. But are we surprised? No!”

Gurdyal Singh Bhullar, 78, is from Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab and he says that the protesting farmers are prepared to do what is needed.

“I am a farmer and have brought enough food to feed this sea of people who have joined this movement from different parts of India,” he says and asks this reporter to have food after the interview is over.

A group of women at Singhu Border have joined their men in protest.

“We stand with our men. They need our support. We strongly oppose this law as farming feeds our family. What else will we do if they deprive us of our source of livelihood?,” they unanimously say, and add, “There are a lot of youths who have joined this protest and we’ll make sure we feed them with the best we can.”