Tens of thousands of farmers on Saturday began packing tents and other makeshift structures at three protest sites on the nation’s borders as they returned home after year-long protests against three farm laws disputes which have now been abrogated by the Center.
Farmers staged a victory march, sang, danced and held parties as they began to dismantle the tents used for the protests, with some of them claiming that the whole process of liberating the three areas – Singhu , Tikri and Ghazipur – could take up to three days. .
After morning prayers and a victory march led by Nihangs on horseback, farmers camped at the border of Singhu began to withdraw from the protest site on tractor carts decorated with flowers amid booming music. . As Nihangs demonstrated martial arts skills and a decorated bus carried Guru Granth Sahib past the procession, several spectators threw flower petals in their path.
A compromise between the Center and protesting farm unions came after two days of behind-the-scenes negotiations in which proposals were exchanged, and 11 tenuous rounds of negotiations that reached a deadlock on January 22. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on November 19 that his government was repealing the contentious laws and Parliament struck them down on November 29.
At the border of Ghazipur, another site of protest by farmers, the first group of farmers left Saturday afternoon for different regions of Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said the process of liberating the area will take up to three days. “I will be leaving the site by December 15,” he said.
Admittedly, the three border roads where farmers have organized sit-ins are not yet open to vehicle traffic. Even after most of the farmers leave the streets on Sunday evening or Monday, police teams from Delhi, UP, Haryana and other agencies will take some time to clear the roads. India’s National Highways Authority (NHAI) will then inspect the roads before opening them to vehicle traffic after more than a year, an official familiar with developments said.
Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dependra Pathak said: âWe have started the process of removing the barricades and blockades that have been placed on the Delhi side. Relevant stakeholders were informed of developments and invited to take the necessary measures to open the three borders. We are trying to open the borders and get traffic back on the roads as soon as possible.
With the exception of the deserted section of the main protest scene of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), more than 70% of the area along the Delhi-Jaipur highway was cleared by late afternoon at the Singhu border. With larger steel frames yet to be dismantled, repairs needed to pavements and concrete fillings by Delhi authorities still in place, it will take a few more days for normal traffic to resume in the area, people are on the line. current of the matter. noted.
Farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan have been camping at the three key border points of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur since November 26 last year to protest against now repealed farm laws . SKM member Balbir Singh Rajewal said the farmers won the fight and the central government was forced to bow. He also paid tribute to more than 700 farmers who died during the unrest.
In addition to handing out sweets and taking selfies at all three sites, many farmers have been seen donating some of their belongings to locals. Before leaving in triumphant convoys, the peasants said they left with bittersweet memories. Iqbal Singh (63) and Labh Singh (70) from Fatehpur Sahib in Punjab were seen cleaning their tent. âWe help clean up the place before we leave. Singhu has been like a home for us and this place has given us many good experiencesâ¦ Morcha Fateh (victory) has been declared and we will return to our fields. Farmers are not resting, âsaid Iqbal Singh.
While many farmers began returning home when the final agreement was reached between the Center and SKM two days ago, the dismantling of tents and makeshift shelters along the Delhi-Chandigarh highway s ‘is accelerated on Saturday. Youth from area villages and locally hired laborers used jackhammers and cutting tools to wrap around the structures. In the case of larger halls with metal frames, cranes and excavators were used to remove the structures.
âThere are stocks of rations, cots, firewood and other relief materials. It was a community effort to support the protest and community members are helping to get it all back. We will clear the site by tomorrow (Sunday), âDalip Singh of Huzoor Sahib gurdwara told Nanded. He added that three trucks and two cranes were brought in to pack the material collected over the past year.
About 30 km away, the Tikri border protest site witnessed a similar wave of activity. Emotions were running high, as the farmers hugged and congratulated each other on the success of their struggle, and vowed to keep in touch with each other as they returned to their villages. Gopal Krishna, 60, sat on top of a truck with two other people as he oversaw the dismantling of their makeshift home. Residents of the village of Hamidi in the district of Barnala in the Punjab, the lot was waiting to come back on Saturday evening.
âBack home, people are waiting for us. As soon as we all return home, we will mark our victory and thank the people back home who supported us during the movement, âsaid Parminder Singh Pradhan, a farmer from Sri Muktsar Sahib in Punjab.
In Ghazipur, BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said: âIt was our ‘training ground’ where we learned to deal with different situations and to lead long protests while dealing with all weather conditions. The people who are part of this turmoil will now travel to different parts of the country and teach others how to deal with such situations. ”
Tikait was in the limelight after his emotional appeal from the stage at the protest site on January 28 earlier this year. Farmer leaders said the site’s platform will be dismantled and that Saturday night was the last time speeches, including Tikait’s, were given from the platform erected on National Road 9.
(Rural) Police Superintendent Gyanendra Kumar Singh said: âSome farmers returned home on Saturday while others in large numbers will start moving to their homes on Sunday morning. The rally intensified on Saturday as people came to meet the farmers before returning home and the families of many farmers also arrived to take them home. “
Emotions were high as the farmers prayed to thank the Almighty and began their “victory march” from the protest sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in convoys of tractors, adorned with flowers and colored lights and songs of jubilation. .
On Saturday evening, most of the farmers cleared the protest site at the Singhu border, which stretches for 5-6 km, leaving behind a few tents.
People gathered in many places on Delhi-Karnal-Ambala and Delhi-Hisar national highways, as well as other roads, greeted and honored farmers with garlands and candy.
A plane also rained flower petals on farmers at the Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana border).
Due to the large convoy of tow trucks and other vehicles, traffic jams could be observed at many places on the Delhi-Haryana National Highway and other roads.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to congratulate the farmers on their efforts. âNothing can replace patience, courage and unity. It is only through mutual brotherhood and unity that the country moves forward. This unity of brother farmers was their greatest strength. My greetings to the strong will and vitality of the farmer brothers who return home from today with a historic victory, âhe said.