While the fatal second wave of Coronavirus sweeps across Delhi, the Singhu and Ghazipur borders have once again become a focal point for farmers protesting the Narendra Modi govt’s three agricultural laws. Farmers claim to be unconcerned about the deadly coronavirus. They say, they have sat here throughout the cold spell and will proceed to do so in the blazing sun.
They claim that the coronavirus epidemic poses no harm to them, hence masks are unnecessary. The actual danger comes from the Centre’s three farm laws, which favor corporate interests and threaten farmers’ lives. Farmers are opposing the farm laws because they believe it would allow the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system to be dismantled, leaving them at the hands of large corporations.
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Thousands of black flags have been stitched by women demonstrators in preparation for a statewide rally on May 26 planned by farmers’ union “Samyukta Kisan Morcha” to mark six months of protest against the Central government’s three contentious farm laws.
Old Punjabi men sitting holding flags. Wikimedia Commons
“For the last 10 months, we are sitting here to lodge our protest against the three black agricultural laws. Every morning after finishing our household chores, we come to the protest site. We spend our day talking to each other. I have not heard that anyone from us to get infected with COVID-19,” said octogenarian Nirmal Kaur, a protestor in Bathinda town.
In the last two days, she claimed, she stitched 120 black flags, which would be distributed for free during the May 26 rally on the Delhi borders. The flags also bear the names of the respective farmer unions, as well as phrases such as Kisan Ekta Zindabad.
‘Langars,’ have been set up along the way by dedicated organizations led by women and the elderly to feed the thousands of farmers. Thousands of gallons of milk and food resources have been delivered to the protesting farmers by people in Haryana and Punjab.
‘Langars,’ have been set up along the way by dedicated organizations led by women and the elderly to feed the thousands of farmers. Wikimedia Commons
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) on Tuesday said: “After months of protesting against anti-farm laws, a determination is same as it was the first day when we arrived at borders. The country and farmers have to battle not only with pandemics but the government. The farmers are risking their lives to save the future and waiting for justice.”
Manohar Lal Khattar, the Chief Minister of Haryana, has appealed to farmers to call off the protests since corona is spreading rapidly in villages. He stated that now is the moment to unite in the battle against Corona. Their anti-government protests may continue after the epidemic has passed.
Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, has also urged the BKU (Bharatiya Kisan Union) not to go forward with their planned sit-in protest, saying it may become a “super-spreader of the infection.”
Farmers say the actual danger comes from the Centre’s three farm laws, which favor corporate interests and threaten their lives. Wikimedia Commons
These demonstrations are taking place at a critical juncture in the epidemic. Even if people take measures, we know that large crowds are extremely dangerous. During a pandemic, there is no absolutely safe method to protest in large crowds, and the potential of this second wave of Covid-19 is still extremely serious. Nobody knows what will happen next or how fatal the following wave will be. These demonstrations are helping to fuel the third wave of Covid-19, which will have a disproportionate impact on millions of people. (IANS/KB)
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