Farmers protesting at Delhi’s border on Wednesday, 13 January, marked this year’s Lohri by burning copies of the three farm laws to mark their objection.
Ankur, a Haryana resident and a Punjab University student, spoke to The Quint’s reporter at the Singhu border shortly after copies of the farm laws were set on fire and said the torching of the copies of the laws in the Lohri fire is “a symbolic protest”.
“This Lohri is playing a formative role in this movement, and it is announcing that these black laws must be scrapped. These may have been passed in the parliament, but (points to the fire in which copies of the laws were torched), this is their condition on the streets.”Ankur
This comes just a day after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws and set up a four-member panel to address the grievances of the farmers over the laws.
Paramjeet Singh, a member of Haryana-based organisation Jai Kisan Andolan, reiterated what many other farmers have been saying since the Supreme Court passed an order instructing a formation of a committee to tackle farmers’ issues with the new laws.
“We had said very clearly a day before Supreme Courht ordered the formation of a committee, that we will not be a part of any committee…And what committee? Supreme Court has placed people who have been thanking the government for these laws in the committee. But farmers have made it clear that we will not be a part of any committee, and especially, not a committee that comprises of those who are in favour of this law.”Paramjeet Singh
Copies of the farm laws were also torched at Tikri, Ghazipur and Jantar Mantar.
A Symbolic Protest
Farmers’ leader Manjeet Singh Rai had, earlier in the day, said they will celebrate Lohri by burning the copies of farm laws at all protest sites, according to Outlook.
It was also, according to The Indian Express, decided that there will be no big celebrations due to the recent farmer deaths and suicides.
A few days ago, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha had expressed their intent to burn the laws. A link to download the farm laws was also shared through WhatsApp and other platforms. Physical copies of the farm laws will also be circulated.
“Farmers are preparing to celebrate Lohri tomorrow at all borders of Delhi, where they are sitting on dharna,” a statement by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha had read, according to The Indian Express.
One of Punjab’s biggest harvest festivals, Lohri, is celebrated on 13 January to mark the end of the winter season. Folk songs and dances take place during the celebrations, and edible items like jaggery, popcorn, rewri and sesame are offered to the bonfire.
Farmers at the Singhu border had said that though they had plans to have a proper celebration with folk songs and dances, they later resolved to have a simple celebration due to recent farmer deaths and suicides.
“Just yesterday, someone here drank poison on the stage…so the mood is very sombre,” Lovepreet Singh, a volunteer was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
A farmer from a village near Chandigarh, Harpreet Singh told The Indian Express that the focus this time was on burning the laws and not so much on celebration.
“When we celebrate Lohri, we sing a song ‘Ishvar aa, dalidar ja’ to send away the cold. In the current scenario… the laws are our dalidar. So we will sing the song keeping this in mind,” he added.
He also said that seeing the government’s stance on the farm laws, the farmers may also have to celebrate Baisakhi at the Singhu border. “We will not move from here till the farm laws are repealed,” he reiterated.
Baisakhi, which is celebrated on 14 April every year, is another important harvest festival of Punjab.
Though the celebration is going to be subdued, families and relatives of some protesters are likely to join them at Singhu border on Wednesday.
Farmers in huge numbers from Uttar Pradesh had also reportedly planned on joining the movement at Ghazipur border.
The farmers have been camped at the borders of Delhi for over a month now, as a mark of protest against the contentious farm laws, and have been refusing to stop their agitation till the legislations are repealed. Eight rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and farmers’ unions to discuss the issues but no resolution has been reached yet.
The next round of talks is scheduled to be held on 15 January at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan.
(With inputs from Outlook, PTI and The Indian Express)