Farmers' stir: Crowds at Delhi borders thinning, but protesters' spirits remain high

Express News Service
NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: The tents that had popped up on the service roads along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway across the police barricades at Ghazipur are slowly getting dismantled. The lines of tractors parked on roadsides are also getting shorter. The crowds gathered are thinning with every passing day.

With sowing season of the sugarcane crop commencing in western Uttar Pradesh and the movement against the three agri laws being taken to the interiors by farmer leaders who are holding kisan panchayats in the rural parts of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and other states, the hustle and bustle at Delhi’s borders is also getting quieter.

“When we had to show our strength, we did. Now, as we are gearing up for a long haul, managing our crops and continuing food supply is a priority. Whenever required, more people will gather again…If the government does not care, we will have to care about our own brethren,” said Pramod Kumar who, along with five others, has brought 14 quintals of rice and wheat flour to be distributed among the 55 ‘bhandaras’ (community kitchens). 

The absence of Rakesh Tikait is clearly visible, as he is busy touring north India garnering support. Many farmers are visiting the protest site during daytime and leaving by night.  At the main stage set up on the expressway, which was once on the verge of collapsing as people thronged to meet Tikait, there are only a few people occasionally raising the ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogan. Police personnel can be seen chatting with the farmers and even having food at the bhandaras, which was not the case till about 9-10 days ago.

At the Singhu and Tikri borders, too, the crowds have thinned. But farmer leaders say this is just a temporarily lull and the people will return by the coming weekend. Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of BKU (Lakhowal) says, “Due to marriage season, many have gone back to their villages… I myself have come to village to attend my nephew’s wedding but will be back at Singhu border is next two to three days.” 

There were many who had come solely to participate in the Republic Day tractor parade. They have gone back home, not the others, he asserted. Sukhdev Singh of BKU (Ugrahan) denied that the protest was fizzling out and claimed it’s instead going beyond Delhi borders and spreading to the entire country.