Farmers worried as numbers fall at protest sites
More than three months have passed since the farmers agitation began. At present the number of people at the Ghazipur Border appears to be thinning, particularly in the last one month.
In fact, this has been the case at the sites of protest on Delhi's borders ever since the violence on Republic Day, January 26. At the Ghazipur Border in particular, the numbers have reduced significantly compared to the same date last month.
According to the farmers on the border, the number of agitators at the protest sites keeps changing since the farmers keep coming and going, particularly in the harvest season.
When we asked Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) media in-charge, Dharmendra Malik, about the dwindling numbers, he said: "We are organising a rally at Saharanpur on Sunday in which Rakesh Tikait will also participate. That is why most farmers have gone there. Let two panchayats be over, the crowds will again begin arriving to the Ghazipur border. At present, 20-25 tractors are about to reach the Ghazipur border."
Ghazipur Kisan Andolan Committee (KAC) leader Jagtar Singh Bajwa told IANS: "Who says that the crowds have reduced? Please go to the stage and see for yourself. The programme hasn't yet begun, but there are people sitting there already. Since there is a Mahapanchayat in Baghpat, people from that area have gone there. Farmers are also heading to the Mahapanchayat in Rudrapur two days later."
Farmer leaders may or may not agree, but the empty tents at the Ghazipur Border provide ample testimony to the fact that the number of farmers in the agitation has come down significantly.
Although the numbers used to increase on the weekend, but that is not happening any longer.
On the other hand, Rakesh Tikait has begun attending Mahapanchayats at other places. Except the days when he is present, neither do the farmers appear too enthusiastic, nor are their numbers high.
On Feb 19, a meeting was called by farmer organisations at Ghazipur Border in which district heads from Meerut, Saharanpur and Muradabad had participated. In this meeting, in light of the dwindling numbers, it was decided that the leadership will try and stop this slide and won't let the movement weaken.
BKU national spokesman Rakesh Tikait has also been saying: "More than farming, the focus must be on the movement. To ensure that the farmers' work is not ignored when they come to the agitation a panel has been formed. According to the panel four families will look after his farm when he comes here."
With the rising mercury, farmers were not being seen in front of the stage. Now a shed has been built to solve this problem and shield the farmers from the harsh summer heat.
Farmers have been protesting against the Centre's three farm laws on Delhi's borders since November 26.