'People's Victory, But Protests Not Over Yet': Farmers React to News of Repeal of Laws

All farmers that The Wire spoke to remembered the over 700 people who allegedly passed away in the course of the protests.

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Jalandhar: Farmers have called the repeal of the three farm laws a big win, a victory of truth over lies and have dedicated the outcome to the over 700 farmers who passed away in the course of this struggle.

Farmers have said that their agitation has proved that in a democracy, it is people’s voice that rules, not authoritarian governments.

The decision, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the 552nd Gurpurab or birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, comes a week before the completion of a whole year of protests.

When Modi announced the repeal, most farmers were either in their fields or in gurdwaras for Gurpurab.

The announcement came at a time when farmers from Punjab and Haryana were all set to leave for the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders of Delhi for the first anniversary of the farmers’ protest on November 26. Farmers have recently completed wheat sowing.

Also read: Did Modi Repeal Farm Laws Out of ‘Respect’? Here’s 12 Times BJP Leaders Tried to Discredit the Protests

Bharat Kisan Union’s Rakesh Tikait was one of many farmers’ leaders who announced that the agitation will not be withdrawn immediately.

“We will wait for the day when the agricultural laws are repealed in the parliament. Along with MSP, the government should also discuss other issues of farmers,” he wrote.

Talking to The Wire, Krantikari Kisan Union president Dr Darshan Pal congratulated farmers, people across the country and Punjabi diaspora who supported the farmers’ agitation despite all odds.

“It is a day of happiness, as the farm laws have been repealed on the Gurpurab of Guru Nanak Dev. But Prime Minister Modi has not done a favour to the farmers — rather, this was the right of the farmers. We owe this victory to the martyrs of Lakhimpur Kheri, Tikri, Navreet Singh and many others who lost their lives raising their voices against the Union government’s high handedness. Salute to all those farmers, who stayed away from their families and loved ones, and the women who stayed back at Singhu and Tikri border despite all odds,” Pal said.

The war is not over, Pal added.

“It is not as if farmers’ issues are over with the repeal of the three farm laws. We are still waiting for legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price, climate friendly farming and loan waiver for farmers,” he said.

Also read: How the Farmers’ Movement Brought the Modi Government to its Knees

‘Demands still pending’

In a video message, senior SKM leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said that the manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted that his government had committed a mistake, the way in which people supported the agitation and the massive support from Punjabis across the world made this a big win.

Tikri on November 19. Photo: Yaqut Ali/The Wire

“Better late than never…We want to thank Prime Minister Modi but he didn’t say anything concrete on MSP. The issue of MSP is not just related to Punjab and Haryana but to the farmers of the entire country, who face exploitation in the absence of MSP on crops. Till all our demands are met in the parliament, our fight will be on,” Rajewal said.

The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmers’ unions issued a statement and said, “The SKM welcomes this decision and will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures. If this happens, it will be a historic victory for the one-year long farmer’s struggle in India. However, nearly 700 farmers have been martyred in the struggle. The central government’s obstinacy is responsible for these avoidable deaths, including the murders at Lakhimpur Kheri.”

SKM leaders also reminded Modi that the agitation of farmers is not just for the repeal of three farm laws, but also for a statutory guarantee of remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and for all farmers. “This important demand of farmers is still pending. So also, is the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill. SKM will take note of all developments, hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions,” SKM said.

The SKM statement was jointly issued by Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurman Singh Charuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shiv Kumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’ and Yudhvir Singh.

Farmers at Tikri on November 19. Photo: Sumit Mishra/The Wire

‘Blessings and grit’

BKU Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadiyan also said that the repeal is the result of the grit, determination, patience, faith on the almighty and “the martyrdom of over 700 farmers.”

“It is the divine blessings of Guru Nanak Dev that our farmers won. At the same time, we are thankful to the vernacular media, especially the Punjabi press, which brought facts and truth to light. They remained our pillar of strength and raised our voice across the world. The government took this decision under acute pressure, the farmers’ protest had attracted international recognition,” he said.

Earlier, congratulating everybody, senior SKM leader Baldev Singh Sirsa said finally the Union government had realised that they were wrong in enacting these three farm laws.

Also read: ‘If Modi Govt Really Respects Sikhs, it Should First Repeal Farm Laws’: Farmers on Kartarpur Move

“But till the time Modi government does not cancel these laws in the parliament and the MSP is not made legal on crops, we will stay at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. We our indebted to our 700 martyrs and people who spent several crores to help the farmers’ protest. The elderly, men, women, youth and even children who dedicated their lives to this struggle and faced harsh summers, monsoons and winters with grit deserve a pat on the back,” Sirsa said.

Tikri border on November 19. Photo: Sumit Mishra/The Wire

‘Always peaceful’

Farmers Tony Sandhu and Sandeep Singh both from Rurka Kalan village in Jalandhar, who have been running a langar at Singhu border since the protests began said that the biggest strength of the protest was that it remained peaceful despite many provocations by the government and its supporters.

Sandhu said, “It is because of the almighty’s blessings that whenever the farmers’ protest faced a setback, it emerged stronger. Whether it was the tractor parade of January 26, violence at the Singhu border after the tractor march, the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, the Tikri deaths or other incidents…the agitation became stronger. We can’t forget how the government and its supporters termed the farmers ‘Khalistanis’, ‘Naxalites’, ‘Pakistanis’ and ‘anti-nationals’.”

Sandeep Singh said that even farmers know that this decision and the opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor were both made eyeing the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. “The timing of the decisions proves that they have been done to take political mileage,” he added. 

Another young farmer, Gurpreet Singh Atwal, who had remained active at the Singhu border since the beginning, also congratulated farmers, labourers and people across the country and the world.

“It is a victory of farmers, mazdoors, all religions and of the people’s voice. Our protest was blessed. It is the victory of truth over lie,” he added.