Kisan mahapanchayat held in Punjab's Jagraon; leaders say agitation no longer a fight of only farmers

The proceedings of the mahapanchayat were delayed by more than an hour due to bad weather and late arrival of leaders

Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent
Jagraon, February 11

Complete unity among various farmer unions and their cadres was at display at the kisan mahapanchayat that got under way at Grain Market here on Thursday.

Farmers sit on trucks at the kisan mahapanchayat at Grain Market in Jagraon. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Senior leader of SKM and chief of BKU-Rajewal Balbir Singh Rajewal was the keynote speaker at the rally. 

He said even though the agitation had commenced from Punjab but now it was no longer confined to borders of this state.

“Not only most of the states but the entire global community is watching the farmers’ stir keenly and repressive action of Modi government against peacefully protesting farmers is also being debated across the world,” he said, adding that for the first time in history as many as 40 organisations of farmers had come on a single platform to fight for their rights.

Rajewal said the grit and determination shown by farmers camping on Delhi borders had shaken the Modi government to the extent that it was now trying to find a face saving formula to wriggle out of the mess that it had created through enactment of three farm laws.

“The government is out to disband the best and proven marketing system in the world by allowing free trade of food grain so as to leave the farmers at the mercy of big business tycoons and a failed model of marketing is being thrust upon the farming community,” said the BKU leader.

Announcing the decisions taken by SKM for next phase of agitation, Rajewal said farmers would take out candle/torch light marches on February 14 in memory of martyrs of Pulwama attack, February 16 would be observed as ‘kisan/mazdoor day’ in memory of Sir Chhotu Ram and a four-hour ‘rail roko’ protest would be held on February 18.

Farmers and people from many other walks of life thronged the mandi ground with their vehicles — tractor trollies, cars. SUVs, buses and trucks — parked wherever a vacant space was available around the venue.

The proceedings of the mahapanchayat were delayed by more than an hour owing to bad weather and late arrival of leaders. Samyukta Kisan Morcha leaders Surat Singh Dharamkot, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Manjit Dhaner, Nirbhai Singh Dhudike and Harinder Singh Lakhowal were present.

The rally attracted an estimated gathering of 25,000 to 30,000 people.

Speaking at the mahapanchayat, SKM leaders Manjit Dhaner (BKU-Ekta Dakaunda), Kulwant Singh Sandhu (Jamhoori Kisan Sabha) and Harinder Singh Lakhowal (BKU-Lakhowal) vowed to fight the Modi government till it reaches a definitive conclusion on the issue of farm laws.

Manjit Dhaner said BKU’s Rakesh Tikait had given a new lease of life to the struggle.

He said: “It is no longer a fight of only farmers but has now become a mass agitation. In the ongoing agitation, 99 per cent of people are standing by farmers but unfortunately, Prime Minister Narndra Modi has chosen to side with corporate houses.”

Lakhowal said the Centre’s claim that doors were open for dialogue on farm acts was a white lie because all doors had been slammed shut in the form of barricades erected on borders, with nails and iron rods fixed on roads, and denial of basic amenities to protesters.

“Farmers are prepared to shed their last drop of blood to safeguard their lands and their rights to remunerative prices,” Dhaner added.

BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan exhorted farmers and people to be prepared for a long-drawn struggle because “the fight is not merely against Modi or the NDA government”.

“The real culprits for these new economic policies are the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the IMF and the Word Bank, who were out to snatch the bread from the mouths of the hungry people and turn the farmers into paupers,” Ugrahan said.

He said if the three farm acts were implemented, more than 80 per cent farmers — especially those with small holdings — would lose their land to the corporate and big business houses.

SKM leaders also cautioned people and protesting farmers against nefarious attempts by all political leaders to hijack the farmers’ agitation for their own political interests.

“The struggle has not been launched by any political party but by farmers, farmworkers and the common people for their survival, and to stop the onslaught by corporates and big business,” they asserted.

Senior leader of SKM and chief of BKU, Rajewal Balbir Singh Rajewal turned out to be a keynote speaker at the rally. He said that even though the agitation had started from Punjab, it is no longer confined to the borders of the state.

“Not only most of the states, but the entire global community is watching the farmers’ stir keenly and repressive action of Modi government against peacefully protesting farmers is also being debated across the world,” he said adding, that for the “first time in the history as many as 40 organisations of farmers have come on a single platform to fight for their rights”.

Rajewal said the grit and determination shown by farmers camping on Delhi borders has shaken the Modi government to such an extent, that it was now trying to find a “face-saving formula to wriggle out of the mess, that it had created through the enactment of three farm laws”.

“Government is out to disband the best and proven marketing system in the world by allowing free trade of food grain so as to leave the farmers at the mercy of big business tycoons and a failed model of marketing is being thrust upon the farming community,” said the BKU leader.

Announcing the decisions taken by SKM for next phase of agitation, Rajewal said the farmers would take out a candle and torchlight march on February 14—in memory of martyrs of Pulwama attack— February 16 would be observed as ‘kisan-mazdoor day’ in memory of Sir Chhotu Ram, and a 4-hour rail roko protest would be held on February 18.

Tribune Shorts


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