Langars, hookah keep farm protest going at Ghazipur

·2-min read

Ghazipur, Feb 5 (PTI) Young men served and relished community meals while the older folks huddled in groups sharing hookah, all of them soaking in the afternoon sun on Friday at the Ghazipur site on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh highway, where they have been protesting the Centre's new agri laws.

Small groups of women too were in attendance at the demonstration, predominantly a show of strength by men pitched here since November, demanding the repeal of the Centre repeal new agri laws enacted last September.

An estimated crowd size of around 2,000 people on Friday encamped the UP Gate (Ghazipur) with Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait -- all pitched against a security apparatus surrounding the site from three sides set up to ensure no one moves to or comes from Delhi.

'We won't leave until our demands are met, come what may,' said Rambir Singh, who hails from Bijnor in western Uttar Pradesh.

Singh, around 40, said he had joined the stir in November but went back home for some work after a month only to return to Ghazipur again.

'The most difficult days of the winter are behind us now. Now the weather is also turning fine and we are in for a longhaul,' he added.

BKU's Tikait, credited with reviving the movement which appeared to have lost momentum after the January 26 violence in Delhi, had on Thursday told reporters here that the ongoing stir against the new contentious farm laws could extend till October this year.

'The framework for furthering the movement is being prepared in villages. Two tractors will come from villages and they will stay here for five days. Then they will leave and another two tractors will replace them,' he had said.

Farmers, including those from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are camping in temporary tarpaulin-roofed shelters, while many have their tractor-trailers double up as their resting place that have come up on a stretch of the Delhi-Meerut highway which until November had thousands of vehicles pass through it daily.

Police and paramilitary forces that were deployed in large numbers here in the wake of the January 26 violence remained on the ground, while multi-layered barricades, concertina wires were also in place along with iron nails studded on roads to prevent any movement towards Delhi.

Iron nails, which were studded on roads around the protest site, were being removed, a move drawing jibes by protestors against the stringent security measures, even as Delhi Police officials said the spikes were just being 'repositioned'.

Besides Ghazipur, thousands of farmers are protesting at Tikri and Singhu borders on Delhi's outskirts since November last year.

The government, which has held at least 11 rounds of formal talks with the representatives of the protesting farmers unions, has maintained that the laws enacted last September are pro-farmer. PTI KIS TDS TDS