'15 Individuals from Each Village'; Farmers Create New Formula to Sustain Agitation throughout the Crop Season
At the Ghazipur boundary protest site on Tuesday, as farmers celebrated Basant Panchami, a festival that marks the beginning of the harvest season, the mood was moderately optimistic. The change of season also suggests that the leaders of the ongoing uprising of farmers are now facing a major challenge in handling a respectable number of farmers at the protest sites as most peasants are likely to leave to tend to their crops for their native places. But, it seems like there is a strategy for them.
Farmers' unions have agreed to keep 15 persons from each village at a time as part of the current plan, so that the majority can take care of their crops back home and also further spread the word of protest.
The farmers would come and go on a rotational basis, based on the distance between their village and the protest site, as per the schedule, the duration of the rotational cycle. Speaking to India Today TV at the Ghazipur border protest site, farm leader Gurmeet Singh said, 'We have decided that no more than 4,000-5,000 protesters are needed at this location at a time.'
But he added, 'The farmers are also aware that, as they tried to do on January 28, the government might attempt to remove us from the protest site. Farmers were thus advised to stay prepared for any SOS message. We'll get in thousands of farmers from surrounding areas in a matter of an hour. Likewise, we already have a list of those farmers who can hit this site within three hours. We can carry one lakh farmers at a 24-hour notice, according to an estimate,' Gurmeet Singh said.
Western Uttar Pradesh and the Uttarakhand area of Tarai are known for their ready-to-harvest sugarcane crop. The sugar mills will remain open until the end of April for crops only. Therefore, farmers have no other choice but to return and work in their fields in their villages.
Also wheat crops have expanded dramatically and need irrigation and manure in order to be ready after nearly two months. For most farmers, the next three months are critical, but they also do not want to abandon the barren site of protest.
From now on, farmers say they are not searching for an overcrowded protest site. They intend to spread the unrest through panchayats in other parts of the country. Strategic consultations are taking place on a daily basis and a comprehensive preparation is being made for the harvest season. Just 15 people from a village will have to camp at the protest site in Ghazipur, they add. Those 15 will, after a week's time, be substituted by another collection of 15 people. The Delhi border protest is going to continue.
Jagtaar Singh Bajwa said, 'We are now telling farmers to reach out to others who are not yet involved in this protest.'
To make the farmers conscious of the three farm rules, we released a booklet in the simplest of languages. At the grass-root floor, we can circulate it. Therefore, the farmers who work in the villages during the harvest season will also play a major role in the chaos.
The audience at rally sites has visibly thinned. Their tractors have already left for the season's harvest along with the farmers. Yet farmers convince themselves that this is a brief process and that they will be back in full power for agitation when the crop season finishes.