“We Won’t Back Off”- Lakhs of Farmers at Muzaffarnagar
Farmers rally against BJP ahead of UP polls
Over Ten lakh farmers make way to GIC ground in Muzaffarnagar in support of the Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat on Sunday. While many farmers lined up on their tractors a kilometre before the main stage area, others volunteered to serve food and manage the crowds pouring in from all parts of the country.
Slogans of “Kisan Ekta Zindabad” can be heard at what has been termed as the biggest farmers rally in India yet. Armed police personnel in large numbers are surrounding the area on all sides, blocking roads and guiding barricades. Amidst heavy policing, Various farm leaders are addressing large crowds as people cheer and clap in support.
10 lakh people gathered in Muzaffar Nagar to protest the Indian government and its farming laws
The event in Uttar Pradesh, organised by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha is a part of the farmer’s ongoing struggle to oppose the Indian government and its three agricultural laws.
We want to tell people to not vote for the BJP government in the March 2022 Uttar Pradesh Legislative assembly elections, said Daljeet Singh, a protesting farmer from Ambala.
Farmers make way to the Maha panchayat amidst heavy policing and barricading
“It has been nine months and the government is not listening to us,” said Singh. “I will stay here as long as the protest continues even if they beat us. We will not back off,” he added.
According to Singh, the farmers movement as well the event in UP has been able to unite people across religion, caste and gender. People now understand what the government is doing to the farmers, they can do to any one of us, he said.
The event also holds special significance as Muzaffarnagar happens to be the home ground for the president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, Rakesh Tikait.
“The event of Kisan Mahapanchayat today has been record breaking. This farmers gathering is historic and Muzaffarnagar has never seen a gathering in such large numbers ever,” said Suresh Pal Singh, a farmer from Bahadurpur, Muzaffarnagar
The farmers are otherwise encamped at Delhi’s borders, mainly at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur. They began their march to the capital on November 25 last year to protest the three “black laws” rammed through Parliament without consultation or discussion.
They say these laws will do away with the MSP (minimum support) price floor intermittently guaranteed by the state, and the price of their crops will be controlled by big corporations, threatening food security.
“We have come here to dethrone the Yogi government in the 2022 elections and the Haryana government in the 2024 elections,” said Kamlesh, a farmer from Haryana.
Since the beginning of the movement, women farmers have played a huge role in supporting the farmers' struggle. Women have side by side during the entire protest and will continue to do so, she added.
Women farmers have played a huge role in the farmers struggle that began in November last year.
Recent use of violence on the farmers during the lathicharge in Haryana is also considered as one of the reasons for the large-scale mobilisation in Muzaffarnagar. Over 500 farmers have lost their lives in the movement, until now, according to the Kisan Ekta Morcha, the movement’s official social media handle.
“With this Maha Mahapanchayat we have started the task of attacking the Yogi government. If the government doesn’t listen to us, the Modi led BJP would not be able to find a place to even hide, the farmers will leave them in such a state,” said Priyanka, a young farmer from Jind, Haryana.
“In our Haryana women are always ahead of men. We will bleed alongside our elders in their struggle to eliminate the BJP government from this country,” said Priyanka.
Farmers from states such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra
Twelve major opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi Party and DMK have extended their support to the farmers’ movement.
A joint statement issued by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister H.D Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray, M.K Stalin and Hemant Soren says the Union government must resume talks with farmer leaders and repeal the three farm laws.
“The Central Government must stop being obdurate and immediately resume talks with [the Samyukt Kisan Morcha] on these lines,” it says.
Other signatories include former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah (JKPA) and Akhilesh Yadav (SP) besides Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPM).
Many celebrities and activists worldwide have also come out in support of the movement thanks to social media, and have been slammed by the Union government for it.
After pop icon Rihanna, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and lawyer-author Meena Harris, niece of US vice-president Kamala Harris spoke out in support of the protests, India’s foreign ministry lashed out on Twitter, calling their comments “neither accurate nor responsible”.
Before the Mahapanchayat, they held their own parliament in July parallel with the monsoon session where discussed matters related to the farm laws, and how state policy has destroyed the agricultural markets system.
The Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat in UP also announced the Bharat Bandh to be held on Monday, 27th. September.