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‘Rakesh Tikait is not our leader…our rally is not politically funded’: 50,000 farmers stage peaceful protests at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, share list of demands

Farmers speaking to OpIndia said stated unequivocally that the so-called farmers who sparked a commotion in Delhi to oppose the three agricultural regulations had received political backing.

On Monday, December 19, around 50,000 farmers gathered at central Delhi Ramlila Maidan. The farmers congregated from across the country under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). After putting forward their demands to the central government, these farmers dispersed by the evening.

According to reports, the farmers, who reached the ground in 700 to 800 buses, and 3,500 to 4,000 private vehicles, put up posters of ‘Bharat Mata’ and ‘Lord Balram’ on the stage around which they sat peacefully and held the demonstration. A traffic advisory had been issued by the Delhi police with the suggested routes to be taken in order to avoid traffic hassles for the people of the city.  

In addition to the Delhi Police, a sizable paramilitary force was also deployed in the area. The flow of the traffic continued to be completely normal throughout the day with no untoward incident reported from the area.

OpIndia also visited the Ramlila Maidan to assess the situation and spoke with a number of farmers who were involved in the protest to find out, particularly what they expected from the central government.

We also questioned why the months-long demonstration against the three agriculture sector reform laws had been largely violent while this particular rally was conducted so peacefully. Suraj Singh Thakur, who hailed from Sehore in Madhya Pradesh, responded to our query by stating that their movement is not funded by any political party, which may be the reason why the rally was held peacefully.

He stated unequivocally that the so-called farmers who sparked a commotion in Delhi to oppose the three agricultural regulations had received political backing. He argued that those ‘farmers’ had a political objective and weren’t only there to present their demands to the government at large, but rather to malign the farmers.

Furthermore, the farmers whom we spoke to, asserted that they were there to put forward their rightful demand and not to foment trouble or beg before the government. They also categorically stated that they were not a part of the previous ‘Kisan Andolan.’ Some, however, confessed that they were only involved in the movement at its inception but backed out after the protest took a different turn.

The farmers participating in the “Kisan Garjana Rally” made it clear that they don’t want to cause any disruption and just want that their demands to be met. The farmers who had congregated from across the country at the Ramlila ground said they had three key demands. The Madhya Pradesh farmers we spoke to said that their first demand is that the money disbursed under the Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KSNY) be increased to ₹20,000 annually from the current amount of ₹6,000. Additionally, they want that the GST levied on farmer instruments should be axed.

Their main demand is that the crop’s selling price be set according to its cost. The leaders are sitting and setting the price for us, the farmers taunted, not even knowing if potatoes grow below or above ground.

When asked whether they have any issues with private businesses, the farmers responded by saying that while they respect the agriculture laws, some inaccuracies should be rectified. These farmers asserted that they are nationalists and that they never had an issue with the three agricultural laws (now repealed).

‘Farmers are being fooled by politically motivated persons like Rakesh Tikait’, says a farmer at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan

The farmers claimed that they had come to accomplish their objectives peacefully and that they would embrace the farm laws once the shortcomings are fixed.

The farmers, who were chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Balaram’ slogans, said that they believe in the power of the vote rather than blocking roads. They unilaterally asserted that Rakesh Tikait is not their leader. They claimed that farmers are being fooled by individuals like Rakesh Tikait.

The ‘Kisan Garjana Rally’ had a very cultural vibe to it. While some farmers were seen performing traditional dance and playing music, some others were playing instruments like the jhal or kartal- a pair of small hand cymbals and drums.

Since it is now wheat season and they must work in the fields as well, many farmers were observed heading for the railroad station after evening.

The fact that there were many women present at the “Kisan Garjana Rally” was the most notable thing there. Additionally, when we looked around, we noticed that many farmers had come to the protest location in big groups and brought some goods along with them. Following the peaceful protest, they ate, drank, and sat calmly while keeping an eye on their possessions before ultimately going back in the evening.

We met some farmers who came all the way from Odisha. Pradeep Mahanta, one of them, also reiterated the same demands, which were fair prices, no GST on farm equipment and an increase in the money disbursed under “Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana”. He said that the farmers should receive at least three Rs 5000 instalments annually.

These farmers also made it abundantly clear that they had initially joined the ‘farmers’ protest against the agricultural legislation but had subsequently rescinded.

When asked whether they consider Rakesh Tikait to be their leader, the farmers said in unison, “No, every farmer is our leader.”

Additionally, when we reminded them of how some so-called ‘farmers’ had unleashed mayhem and laid siege to the iconic Red Fort on 26 January 2021, the farmers in Odisha asserted that they have always been in favour of peaceful demonstrations. They claimed that they are not against the government and that they are only here to seek their rights.

These farmers of Odisha told us that if there were some amendments made to the agricultural laws, they would be happy to accept them. They stated that they have a great deal of faith in Lord Balaram because he is regarded as Lord Jagannath’s elder brother and the Lord of the plough. Lord Balaram has numerous temples in Odisha as well. That’s why the slogan of ‘Jai Balaram’ echoed a lot in the ‘Kisan Garjana Rally’.

Along with the aforementioned slogans, others such as ‘जो हमसे टकराएगा, हमसे ही मिल जाएगा’ (Jo humse takrayega, humse hi mil jayega) were also heard during the protest. Some other interesting slogans were also raised, a few being, ‘पिएँगे क्या – रस, खाएँगे क्या – रसगुल्ले’ (Piyenge kya-ras, Khayenge kya-rasgulla), ‘देश के हम भंडार भरेंगे लेकिन कीमत पूरी लेंगे’ roughly translated as (We will fill the granaries of the country but take the full price for it).

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अनुपम कुमार सिंह
अनुपम कुमार सिंह
भारत की सनातन परंपरा के पुनर्जागरण के अभियान में 'गिलहरी योगदान' दे रहा एक छोटा सा सिपाही, जिसे भारतीय इतिहास, संस्कृति, राजनीति और सिनेमा की समझ है। पढ़ाई कम्प्यूटर साइंस से हुई, लेकिन यात्रा मीडिया की चल रही है। अपने लेखों के जरिए समसामयिक विषयों के विश्लेषण के साथ-साथ वो चीजें आपके समक्ष लाने का प्रयास करता हूँ, जिन पर मुख्यधारा की मीडिया का एक बड़ा वर्ग पर्दा डालने की कोशिश में लगा रहता है।

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