The festival of Lohri is going to be very different this year. Although a nationwide call has been given to the people, the farmers protesting against the controversial farm laws promulgated by the centre, particularly those from Punjab are going to celebrate the festival by burning the copies of the three controversial farm laws. These laws are to be torn and offered to the traditional bonfire of Lohri even as traditional revelry that marks the festival will continue.

“The message that will be sent is that while we celebrate our festival, we will also use this occasion to protest against the anti farmer policies of the central government. The burning of the farm acts is going to take place across Punjab, Haryana, the protest sites at the border of the national capital as well as other places across the country,” said Manik Goyal, an activist with the Tractor2twitter campaign that has been setting trends on the farmers’ narrative across the social media.

There is a very interesting cultural connotation to this folk festival that is marked by revelry as people remember the folk hero Dulla Bhatti who is said to have organized the farming community and fought for the rights of the farmers against the anti people land laws of the Mughals. The people sing songs remembering Dulla Bhatti and the most popular one goes,

"Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti wala ho!”

Sundari and Mundari were beautiful girls saved by Dulla Bhatti according to folklore.

Cultural activist Kanwaljit Khanna who has been among those organizing protests at Jagraon for the last four months disclosed, “This year the famous song of Dulla Bhatti will be sung in a new form. The farmers and other participants of the people’s movement will be singing

‘Singhu Tikrie Ho,
Tera kaun vechara ho,
Dulla Bhatti wala ho,
Kisan ladade border te ho,
Hogi jeet har haal ho’
(Dulla Bhatti will take care of the protesting farmers at Singhu and Tikri borders which are tha main protest sites at the gates of Delhi. The farmers are waging a battle against injustice at the borders of the national capital and they shall win at any cost.)

Lohri greetings in circulation

Sources disclosed that there is massive mobilization that has gone into making this campaign of burning the copies of the controversial farm acts in the Lohri bonfires. Not only in rural areas, the bonfire events are scheduled to be organized on a large scale in urban centres as well. Social and cultural activists along with students and intellectuals have been garnering support for the proposed event.

“Every Punjabi is expected to participate in these events where the acts will be consigned to flames among the traditional celebrations. In Chandigarh, a bonfire will be lit in Sector 17 (the plush plaza and city centre) and the acts will be burnt. This will be followed by plays and other cultural events,” disclosed Professor (Retired) Manjit Singh who is an expert in Sociology.

The event is expected to get a raving response from the masses in the light of the developments in the Supreme Court (SC) with regards to the controversial acts on Monday. There is a lot of anger at the reported Khalistani narrative given by the government when it said that Khlistanis have infiltrated the protests. People are annoyed at the branding of their peaceful protest in this manner and are questioning why the country has been consuming food produced by ‘Khalistanis’ all these years.

There is also adverse response to the four member committee announced by the Supreme Court to interact with the farmers who see the members as supporters of the farm laws.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the apex body of farmers that is spearheading the protests said in a statement, “The SC has formed a Committee in its own wisdom and farmer unions have nothing much to say on this. Farmer unions reiterate the fact that they will not participate in any such committee process. Further, one of their apprehensions about such a process got validated in the very constitution of the committee. It is clear that the Court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same. It is not out of place to remind that the farmer unions have rejected a Committee proposal from the government too. Their dialogue is basically with an elected government about its policy directions and concomitant laws.”

The Morcha further said, “We noted that the Court has ordered suspension of implementation of the laws temporarily. Suspending the implementation of the laws as an interim measure is welcome but is not a solution and the farmer unions have not been asking for this solution, given the fact that the implementation can be reinstated at any time. The government must repeal the laws and it must understand that farmers and people of India are opposed to the laws.”

The farmers have stated that they have explained in detail to the Government of India that the three laws will lead to corporate control over agricultural production, processing, and markets. They will lead to high cost of inputs, higher debts on peasants, lower the crop prices, increase farmer losses, decrease government procurement, end the public distribution system (PDS), raise food costs, lead to more farmer and agricultural worker suicides, hunger deaths and eviction from land due to debts. They say that the government has hidden these hard facts from people and courts.

The Morcha leaders have also accused the government of misguiding the Court on the proposed peaceful Kisan Parade announced by farmers organizations on Republic Day at Delhi and all over the country in large numbers.

The farmers stated that their struggle on their key demands will continue as per the earlier announcements. They have pointed that farmers are on an indefinite sit-in strike at more than 20 places in Bihar. They have held meetings at more than 80 places in Chhattisgarh and are preparing to join the protest at Delhi borders.

There has been a bike rally in Gulbarga in Karnataka to protest against three farm laws and hundreds of farmers from Kerala are coming to Delhi borders. There have been huge demonstrations in Vijayawada and Hyderabad.In Rajasthan and Haryana, farmers are joining the agitation under the Jagrukta Pakhwada and various demonstrations are being held in many districts. In Kerala farmers have taken out a long tractor rally and are holding protests against the centre on a daily basis.