Unfazed by developments in the national capital on Tuesday, especially at the Red Fort, thousands of farmers sitting on protest on National Highway-44, leading to Kundli border from Murthal, remained peaceful.
On Monday night, farmers at NH-44 were apprehensive that some elements were trying to provoke them. According to sources, a group at the Singhu border were not happy with the route finalised by leaders of the Sayunkt Kisan Morcha and Delhi Police for the tractor parade, and insisted on heading to the Outer Ring Road.
Early Tuesday morning, this group moved towards Delhi by removing police barricades while others followed them. However, the majority of farmers could not move ahead due to traffic snarls on the highway even as volunteers made announcements on loudspeakers to remain in line. A biker, with a yellow light on his vehicle, too tried to discipline the crowd.
Meanwhile, farmer leaders started receiving inputs regarding the situation in the national capital, and held group meetings to urge protesters to stay away from rumours. While a few youth called on farmers to walk towards Delhi’s borders, they did not get much response.
Satnam Singh Sidhu, vice-president of the Indian Farmers’ Association, Punjab, said most farmers want a peaceful agitation but some elements had been trying to provoke them at Singhu border since Monday evening. “Such elements don’t have any support from most of the farmers; we will continue the agitation peacefully,” he said.
By 2 pm, farmers on NH-44 realised they won’t be able to move further. So they halted on the highway and moved to langars where tea, snacks and food was being offered to them. At 3 pm, a section of farmers started returning to Haryana and Punjab from NH-44 while some decided to stay.
Protesters reiterated that the three farm laws are meant to facilitate corporates to grab their land. Mandeep Singh (33) said, “I have left behind my one-and-half-year-old daughter at home with her mother. We are fighting to save our land which is like a mother to us.”
Suraj Bhan (78), a farmer from Sonipat’s Murlana village, said: “We farmers have joined hands after a long time. We may sit here for months but won’t return to our homes till our demands are met.”
Also at the protest was Sandeep Kaur, a Class XII student from Sahlon village (Nawanshahr) in Punjab, and her classmate Geeta Rani. The duo are part of a 30-member group that travelled 350 km in a truck to the border from Punjab five days ago, and have been helping volunteers in making food for the protesters.
Said 18-year-old Kaur, “My father is a shopkeeper but we can’t leave farmers alone in this fight. If they don’t survive, how will we?”