Punjab & Region

Fight not over, govt must formally repeal farm laws, give legal guarantee for MSP, say Punjab villagers

Mohali, November 21

For 62-year-old Bhupinder Kaur, who has been part of demonstrations against three central farm laws since last year, the fight is far from over, even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that they will be repealed.

The fight will not be over till the laws are formally repealed in Parliament and farmers’ demand for legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops is fulfilled, said Kaur as she, along with other elderly women from Chilla village in poll-bound Punjab’s Mohali district, prepared ‘langar’ at a local gurdwara.

The prime minister in his address to the nation on Friday announced repeal of the laws and that the constitutional formalities to revoke the laws would be done during the winter session of Parliament, which begins on November 29.

Kaur’s views were echoed by others as they discussed the year-long protests against the laws while preparing food at a ‘langar’.

Formally roll back the laws in Parliament and give legal guarantee of MSP on crops, these are the demands, they said, adding that families of farmers who lost their lives in protests, which began last year, must be given compensation.

The prime minister’s announcement was welcomed on Friday by farmers’ unions spearheading the agitation but they said protests would continue till the measures are repealed in Parliament and MSP got legal guarantee.

Chilla village has a population of around 2,000, and villagers, who are not aligned to any farmer outfit, are actively participating in the agitation against the laws at the Singhu border, attending it in batches.

The Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana was the fountainhead of the farmers’ protest, which started last year in November, two months after enactment of the laws. From there the movement gradually expanded to the Ghazipur border between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and other sites.

The women of Chilla village, along with their children, also stand near a traffic light point every day to muster support for protesting farmers.

Similarly, residents of nearby villages of Manauli, Bhago Majra, Sante Majra, Chhota Raipur and Bada Raipur have also been going to protest sites on Delhi’s borders.

Bhupinder Kaur, who also has been going to the Singhu border regularly, told PTI: “Till the three farm laws are repealed in Parliament, our struggle continues.”

Malkit Kaur, who, along with some other women, was chopping vegetables for the langar, was sceptical about the PM’s statement saying the government should formally roll back the laws.

On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had asked farmers to be cautious till the farm laws were repealed, saying Prime Minister Modi has made only an announcement on it.

However, the announcement on Guru Nanak Jayanti was enough to get villagers in Chilla to celebrate.

“Somebody called me up and said congratulations. I thought it would be for Gurpurab but when he told me about repealing of the laws, I left my meal midway and went straight to the gurdwara and announced to the villagers that we had won,” Baba Sukhchain Singh, head of the gurdwara at Chilla village, said. Singh said it was a fight for existence and collective support of the people proved that they could stand against government decisions which were not acceptable.

He claimed that farmers had enough ration to stay at Delhi’s borders till 2024.

Jagtar Singh Gill said people, especially in rural areas, would remember that it took one year for the BJP-led government to repeal the laws. The anger against the BJP would not subside soon, he said.

“Farmers will also not forget that they were called terrorists, Khalsitanis, etc,” said Gill, claiming that “700 farmers died during the agitation”.

On the Punjab Assembly polls, slated early next year, Gill advocated the idea of farmers to take an electoral plunge.

Singh said villagers, including women, would go in large numbers to Delhi’s border on the completion of one year of the struggle.

In Hoshiarpur, farmers continued with their protests, demanding a law for legal guarantee for MSP and compensation to families of farmers who died during the stir.

Farmer Kuljinder Singh Ghuman of Jatpur village said the announcement to repeal the laws is a big success not only for the farming community but also for the common man.

Jangveer Singh of Rasoolpur village said had the farm laws been withdrawn earlier, there would not have been so many deaths.

In Amritsar, panchayat member Heir Sarbjit Singh said, “Farmers are extremely happy with the announcement of repealing of the three central farm laws.”

Another farmer, Gurjinder Singh, who has 35 acres of land near Raja Sansi, said the government should have repealed the farm laws earlier.