Despite casualties, farmers won’t give in

Agitation enters 50th day

Despite casualties, farmers won’t give in

Chilled to the bone in freezing cold, they have seen it all—mornings of despair as farmers died in sleep and evenings of hope on the eve of talks.

Geetanjali Gayatri

Tribune News Service

Sonepat, January 13

As farmers complete 50 days of their agitation at Delhi’s entry points tomorrow, their struggle against the three central laws seems to be far from over despite several rounds of negotiations with the government and the Supreme Court taking it upon itself to break the impasse.

Chilled to the bone in freezing cold, they have seen it all—mornings of despair as farmers died in sleep and evenings of hope on the eve of talks. The Delhi ice, however, has shown no sign of thaw and the powers that be not warming up to them.

Protesters unsure of what they want

It is good the Supreme Court has stayed the laws. Farmers are not willing to come to a consensus even after many rounds of talks. They do not even know what they want. — Hema Malini, BJP MP

After pushing their way through the first barricade on November 26 last year, the farmers appear to have adapted well to living by the roadside — not letting their anger out despite the hardships, says a farmer leader.

Bharatiya Kisan Union Haryana chief Gurnam Singh Charuni alleges the government is barbaric to let farmers suffer in harsh winter and go about its business with such “indifference” even as casualties among the protesters continue to rise.

“The Centre, more specifically the BJP, is insensitive to the plight of the farmers. We complete 50 days tomorrow. But the way things are moving, it could be 50 more days—or even months. We started out on November 26 with the sole motive of getting the laws repealed and were hopeful of returning home in a couple of days. Nobody ever thought a government could be so harsh that it will leave its farmers die out in the cold. But struggles do take time. There are no shortcuts to victory,” says Charuni.

Facing heat, Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant calls on PM

Under pressure, Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Singh Chautala on Wednesday called on PM Modi. Sources said the two discussed the prevailing political and law and order situation in Haryana vis-à-vis farmers’ agitation. Chautala apprised the PM of his meeting with JJP MLAs on Tuesday and the feedback he got from them on the need for reforms. TNS

At Singhu, the count of protesters has been steadily rising. A large number of women, children and elderly are among those camping endlessly, with some families making this Haryana-Delhi border as their makeshift home. Open kitchens have slowly made way for tin sheds covered with tarpaulins while trailers have doubled up as multi-purpose rooms. There is no dearth of food and other essentials.

Union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa says they have several “achievements” to their credit in 50 days. “We have wiped out the politically motivated divide between Punjab and Haryana. All attempts to divide us have fallen flat,” he claims.

Putting out a list of 115 farmers who he claims to have died during the agitation, Sirsa said, “We will accept nothing less than repeal of the black laws. Fifty days or five months, we are here to stay—and win. The martyrs sacrifice won’t go waste.”

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