Farmers in Their Millions Valiantly Continue Their Fight for the Repeal of Neo-Liberal Farm Laws

January 26, 2021. Farmers welcomed by the people of Delhi with a shower of flower petals as they enter the city for the Republic Day Tractor march.

On January 26, Republic Day in India, the attention of the world was not on the usual pomp and ceremony at Delhi's Red Fort, but on the tractor march by hundreds of thousands of farmers on the roads of Delhi, declaring that they are the Public in the Indian Republic. They also declared that they are the real patriots because they feed the whole country. Despite this, representatives of the ruling elite and their media, keep calling them "anti-national," " terrorists," "Maoists," "Khalistanis" and other epithets which they use to justify treating them as criminals. The tractor march featured floats depicting the life of farmers and toilers from all over India. "It is definitely memorable. The farmers and workers are making history," one person said of it. Thousands of farmers in other capitals and cities throughout India also held tractor marches and protests for the repeal of the anti-social farm laws that the central government has brought in.

In Uttar Pradesh, police had issued notices under section 149 -- a colonial provision -- to farmers who owned tractors, to not take their tractors on the road from January 23 to 26 in order to "safeguard children on the road." But the farmers in their thousands defied these notices and went to Delhi. The government had also ordered the diesel dealers to not sell diesel to the farmers. The farmers responded by setting up their own diesel supplies. Rallies, demonstrations and protests took place all over the world in front of Indian missions in support of the farmers and their just demands.

Every attempt is being made to discredit the farmers. At the tractor march on Republic Day the police staged a provocation with what appeared to be a small group of farmers who left the main march, breaking through barricades and reaching the Red Fort where they hoisted the flag of the farmers and the Sikh gurus. Not surprisingly, the government immediately seized on the incident as a pretext to unleash further police measures on the farmers and their supporters. Leaders of the farmers condemned the action saying it was led by agents provocateurs closely connected to the governing party, the BJP. One of them was seen in a photo op with Prime Minister Modi. It is also reported that a farmer was shot dead by the police. There are reports of some policemen also getting injured in clashes at the Red Fort. The corporate media screamed overtime to demonize the farmers' march using the few scattered incidents to detract attention from the justice of the farmers' cause and the millions upon millions who espouse it. 

To stop the farmers from gathering in Delhi, trains headed there have been either short stopped or diverted, citing operational pretexts. Cement walls and cement barricades have been built on orders of the central government. The latest measure of the central government is to order the Delhi police and government to prevent the supply of water, food, sanitation and essential items sent by people of nearby states from reaching the farmers who are in the midst of this heroic unprecedented protest. The farmers responded that these illegal measures would not deter them from achieving the repeal of the anti-social neo-liberal farm laws.

Farmers also marched on foot to the Lok Sabha, the parliament, during the budget session that got underway on January 29. Farmers' unions announced a countrywide 'Chakka Jam' to be held February 6 to block national and state highways for three hours in protest against the internet ban in areas near their agitation sites, harassment by authorities, and other issues.

At the Ghazipur border, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said the police barricading could not stop the farmers and they were ready to continue their protests as long as needed. "Talks with the government will continue, this taarbandi (barricading) will also continue. We have been told that no one will be able to leap over these barriers. This movement is of the poor. The king is fortifying this place, but we are prepared till October-November. This protest will not end any time soon," Tikait said. "Repealing the laws is the only way out."

The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of protesting unions, informed that the Twitter accounts of Kisan Ekta Morcha and a user named 'Tractor2Twitter' have been restricted. Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said the action against the Twitter account was taken on the "request of government authorities." He also decried that the government's Union Budget 2021, reduces the allocation to the agriculture sector.

In a statement, the SKM said, "Increased barricading including trench-digging, fixing nails on the roads, barbed wire fencing, closing off of even internal roads, stopping internet services, orchestrating protests and facilitating the same through BJP-RSS [Bharatiya Janata Party -- Rashtriya Swayannsevak Sangh] workers, diversion of trains and stopping them before destination stations are all part of multiple attacks being organized by the government, its police and administration against the protesting farmers."

"On one hand, the Prime Minister says that the solution is only one call away, but on the other hand the government is doing its best to block off the protest sites, cut off facilities and inconvenience the public," the statement said.

At the Singhu border, farmer leaders demanded the release of the 122 people arrested by the Delhi Police, blaming them for violence in connection with Republic Day events. SKM's Darshan Pal said: "The Delhi Police have released the list of 122 agitators (activists) who were taken into police custody. We demand their immediate release. We also condemn the attacks on and arrests of journalists who are covering the movement." Questioning the police tactics, Pal said, "To ensure that more people do not join (the protests), to cut off the coordinated functioning of the Morcha, to project images of violence so that ordinary people stay away, and to crack down on protesters through fabricated charges and arrests, while the real criminal elements go scot-free without any arrests and concrete police action so far, reveals the fact that the government is very scared of the increasing support for the movement." Organizers are concerned that many people at the protest sites had gone "missing," he added.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmer leader from Punjab, and part of the SKM, told reporters that the modalities of the February 6 'Chakka Jam' were to be decided after discussion with various unions collectively, including those protesting at Ghazipur border site, the new focal point of the farmers movement against the new farm laws. Rajewal claimed during the press conference that scores of people have been "detained by the police" and First Information Reports (FIRs) have been filed against many, including a journalist. "Our February 6 protest would also be against this harassment faced by journalists who are trying to report the truth from the ground, and the Twitter restrictions," he said.

Thus far, the farmers are developing many other forms of protest to show they are undeterred. They stand united in their demand for the repeal of the farm laws: the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

An Explosion of Songs, Poems, Plays,
Paintings and Other Art Forms

Another prominent feature of the historic protest is the explosion of songs, poems, plays, paintings and other arts inspired by the farmers movement all across India and both East and West Punjab. Many of them talk about Sidak -- Fidelity to the cause; Sabar -- Discipline, Patience and Ekta -- Unity. One of the songs that has become very popular is:

Asin Padhange Kisan Mazdoor Ekta
Tera Honna Chhutkara Zindabad Bolke

(We uphold the unity of farmers and workers
You can only save yourself by shouting Long Live!)

Asin Izaatan De Rakhayan Di Qom Hakima
Tainun Sharam Na Ayee Atwadi Bolke

(We are defenders of dignity
Listen you rulers -- You have no shame in calling us extremists)

Zindabad, Zindabad,Zindabad
Tainun Dilliye Ekath Eh Preshan Karuga
Faslan De Faisle Kisan Karuga

(Listen Delhi! Our unity is trouble for you
The Farmer will decide about his crops)

A seven-year-old boy sang it on the stage with great flair and passion and thousands of men and women joined him with both their arms up in the air shouting Zindabad, Zindabad, Zindabad. (Long Live, Long Live, Long Live).

Another song declares:

Sade Layi Kile Ban gayian ,Sadkan Ne Patshah
Barse Koi Noor Ilahi Dilli De border Te
Ose Hi Rah Te Tur Paye Put Tegh Bahadur De
Barse Koi Noor Ilahi Dilli De Border Te

(For us the roads and highways have become forts
A divine light shines at our encampment at the border of Delhi
Sons of Tegh Bahadur are marching on the same path)

The song invokes memories of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh, his four sons and mother who became martyrs while fighting tyranny. Hundreds of songs, poems and plays are depicting the struggles of farmers and all toilers. Many of them are invoking the struggle against the British. Punjabi songs and poems are evoking memories of the centuries-long fight of Punjab against Delhi.

(With files from correspondents in Delhi, The Wire and relevant press releases from the farmers' unions. Photos: A. Kaur, U.A. Awan, Mansi Kaur, Robo Human, Sanchit, Badesha, S. Bhadoriya, Gulish News, P. Kumar)

This article was published in

Volume 51 Number 2 - February 7, 2021

Article Link:
Farmers in Their Millions Valiantly Continue Their Fight for the
Repeal of Neo-Liberal Farm Laws


Website:   Email: