Protesters at Singhu border not hopeful of any positive outcome from talks with Central government

While talks were underway between farmer leaders and Union Ministers in central Delhi on Monday, protesters at the Singhu border were gearing up for the January 26 tractor parade.

“We have wanted to end the protest since the day we came here but the Central government will not agree [to repeal controversial farm laws] and so, we will continue our struggle,” said Harmeet Singh, 45, a farmer from Patiala.

On January 2, farmer leaders had announced that thousands of protesters would march into Delhi on Republic Day and hold their own parallel tractor parade if their demands are not met.

“We will start preparing for the tractor parade now and our tractor will also participate in it,” said Harmeet.

Sukhchain Singh Bhullar, 67, from Hoshiarpur, said they have asked villages in Punjab and Haryana to send more tractors to take part in the rally. “Most of the tractors and trolleys at the Singhu border will remain parked here as we have been camping here for over a month now and will not clear the place. Therefore, more tractors have been called in from Punjab,” he said.

Fifty-eight-year-old Ranjeet Singh from Jalandhar said that not all tractors would be part of the parade.

“Security will be of utmost importance while deciding on the tractors. Most of the tractors that will be part of the parade will be designed in such a way that the occupants will not be affected by tear gas shells and water cannons,” he said.

All the farmers The Hindu spoke to on Monday were of the opinion that the talks would remain inconclusive.

“The government believes that we will stay for a month or two and then leave. They will not bend. What I think is that they will eventually put a stay on the laws for a year to satisfy their ego,” said Ranjeet.

Six meetings have already taken place between farmer leaders and the Centre without any resolution, said 55-year-old Ashok Mittal from Patiala. “Hum jo sochke aaye vo to leke jaenge… hum din nahin gin rahe (We will take what we have come to take… we are not counting days)”.

Owing to Sunday’s heavy downpour, the protest site was filled with garbage, cups, plates and plastic.

Staying dry

By the time volunteers were able to clean up the muck, the rain started again.

The protesters are managing to stay dry in their tractors and trolleys, which are covered with multiple layers of thick plastic.

Even the langars continued from underneath tarpaulin-covered tractors.

The deadlock between farmers and union ministers continued on Monday after the Centre remained firm on their stand the farmers’ theirs. The next meeting is scheduled for January 8.Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders said on Saturday had said that thousands of protesting farmers will march into Delhi on Republic Day and hold their own parallel tractor parade if their demands are not met by then.

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