A cacophony of rumbling engines, Punjabi tunes and rousing slogans filled the air as rows of tractors took over the roads at the Singhu border for the protest march by farmers on Thursday.
Thousands of farmers who have been protesting at the Delhi-Haryana borders for over 40 days took out a tractor march to strengthen their agitation against the new farm laws.
The tractor march started from four different points — Singhuto Tikri Border, Tikri to Kundli, Ghazipurto Palwal and Rewasan to Palwal.
“The government has been hosting meeting after meeting. They know what we want. We want the laws to be repealed, but all we get are futile talks. With this rally we want to give them a glimpse of what we can do, and what we will do on January 26.
“Today the rally is happening on the periphery of Delhi, but when our farmer leaders decide that we need to enter the capital, we will do that,” said Harjinder Singh from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur.
Perched on their tractors, protesting farmers moved out of the protest site, and speakers on their vehicles belted out music keeping their spirits high. Some of tractors participating in the march were seen with national flags.
Other protestors lined the path providing their fellow farmers with all kinds of supplies, including peanuts, fritters, tea, and newspapers.
“We are the sons of soil. If the laws are passed, we will starve to death. This rally is our way of telling the government that we will not give up unless it gives in to our demands,” said Jaspal Singh Deol from Punjab’s Chamkaur Sahib.
According to Navpal Singh from Jalandhar, the rally was a show of farmers’ might and strength.
“This rally is to show the government our strength and number, and educate people of the country about what we are doing, and why we are doing it.
“A lot of people who are not from farming families think that these laws will only affect the farmers, but it’s important they know that if passed these laws are going to have an impact on every citizen of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the crowd thinned at the Singhu Border, the main protest site, but life continued as usual.
Langars kept dishing out meals, and medical camps distributed medicines to all those who stayed back, particularly the elderly and the women. Logs for burning have been brought in huge quantities to keep people warm in the chilling temperatures.
Braving severe cold and sporadic rains, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and some other parts of the country have been camping at several Delhi border points for over 40 days, demanding repeal of the farm laws, a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops and other two issues.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.