As thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana descend on the national capital to protest against the farm laws, The Indian Express profiles some of the leaders behind their mobilisation.

Jagmohan Singh, 64
General secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda)

Jagmohan Singh is one of the most respected farmer leaders of Punjab. A small farmer who became a full-time activist three decades ago, he is well-versed in farming issues and policies. Leaders of other farmers and farm labourers’ outfits also look up to him for chalking out agitations. Initiated into activism at a tender age, Jagmohan went behind the bars before turning 18.

A postgraduate and diploma holder, he is an expert in acupuncture therapy. He joined Bharti Kisan (BKU) Ekta in 1993 after leaving his government job in the Department of Cooperatives. BKU (Dakaunda) was formed around 15 years ago and is one of the most active farmers’ unions of the state. A small farmer, he owns nearly 5 acres that he has given on lease, and says he has been able to devote his time to the union because his wife has an assured job in the postal department.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni, 64
President, BKU, Haryana

Chaduni is among farmer leaders of the region who started mobilising farmers against the three farm Bills before these were passed. Hailing from Chaduni Jatan village in Kurukshetra district, he shot to fame when he led an agitation for farm loan waiver in 2008. After that, he has led many successful agitations, always opting for unique ways such as shirtless protest marches and throwing of potatoes on state highway.

In 2019, Chaduni and other farmers climbed an 80 feet water-tank demanding purchase of entire crop of sunflower. He came down only after the government agreed to purchase the entire produce. Haryana Police booked him for attempt to murder on Friday.

Mahinder Singh, 50
General secretary, Mansa district BKU, Dakaunda

Singh is a farm activist for the last 23 years. He has 18 cases against him in connection with farmer protests such as rail roko, jail bharo, because of which he was lodged at nine different jails, including in Delhi. A matriculate and a farmer himself, he along with his two brothers farm on 21 acres at his native village – Bhiani Bagha in Mansa district. “My life is dedicated to farmers and it does not matter even if I am booked in 100 cases,” he told The Indian Express.

Bhupinder Singh Longowal, 35
State convener, youth wing, Kirti Kisan Union

Active in the union for the last two years, Longowal, a postgraduate in Political Science, has been a farm activist since his student days and was a member of the Punjab Students Union and Nuajwan Bharat Sabha before joining Kirti Kisan Union. With a family debt debt of Rs 7.50 lakh, the marginal farmer with 2 acres of land is fully dedicated to the farmers’ cause.

Bhupinder’s education and rapport with the students has helped in mobilising a large number of youngsters for the Delhi Chalo agitation.

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, 70
General secretary; BKU, Ugrahan

A retired school teacher, Kokrikalan is general secretary of the biggest farmers’ union in Punjab, which has been against confrontation with police during the Delhi Chalo agitation. Kokrikalan comes from a poor family, which owned 2.5 acres in Kokrikalan village of Moga district. He did his BSc, BEd and appointed government teacher in 1972. Despite being a regular and permanent teacher, he participated in a protest led by temporary teachers in 1978, demanding regularisation of jobs, and went to jail for 75 days. He resigned from his job at the age of 48 to work full time for farmers’ cause.

Satnam Singh Pannu, 65
President, Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee, Punjab

Pannu has been taking a hard line in protests against farm laws for the beginning. His union continued dharna on the tracks at Jandiala Guru near Amritsar even after others agreed to call off the protest last week. Formed in 2000, the oufit is now active in 10 districts of Punjab, including four of Majha region, and three each of Doaba and Malwa regions.

The organisation has both farmers and khet mazdoor as its members. This is considered the most aggressive farm organisation of Punjab. Pannu had launched the outfit in 2000 when the then SAD-BJP government was not lifting paddy from mandis. It was due to their agitation that farmers managed to get paddy lifted. Hailing from Piddi village in Tarn Taran district, Pannu is a graduate and is active since his student days.

Dr Darshan Pal, 70
Member, working group, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee; president, Krantikari Kisan Union Punjab

Dr Pal’s outfit is among the10 most active farm organisations in Punjab. A MBBS, MD (Anesthesia), PCMS doctor, he took premature retirement from his Punjab Civil Medical Service job and became an agriculturist as his family owned 15 acres. He started participating in farmers’ programmes in 2007 and joined BKU.

In 2016, when Krantikari Kisan Union was formed, he became its member and was appointed the president of the union during the Covid pandemic. A very articulate leader, he gad been very active in talks with central and state leaders. His union is quite active in half a dozen districts of the Malwa region.

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