Farmers on Wednesday marched in large numbers from three Punjab borders towards Delhi’s Tikri border despite Covid curbs being in place.
Claiming that the farmers were fighting both against Covid-19 and the government, farmer leaders said they understood their responsibility during the pandemic, but had no choice but to protest. They appealed to all attending dharnas to get vaccinated. Farmers also reiterated that the dharnas were not causing any obstruction to emergency services.
Shingara Singh Mann, president of BKU (Ugrahan)’s Bathinda unit and also vice president of the union, led a convoy from Bathinda-Dabwali road along with thousands of farmers.
He said, “I am 61 years old and I have got myself vaccinated. My second dose is due in the second week of May. No doubt corona is a disease, but not as deadly as being projected. However, our union’s entire state committee has got the first jab and we will be getting the second dose next month. Our president had tested positive for Covid last month and we do understand our responsibilities.”
The farmer leader added: “If the Haryana government will organise any vaccination camp in Bahadurgarh area, we will appeal to our members to get themselves vaccinated. The government put us all at risk after passing farm laws in September. Instead of managing Covid, they forced us to come out on roads. Otherwise, villagers were busy giving thikri pehras in villages to get lockdown implemented.”
Jagseer Singh, district committee member of BKU (Ugrahan) from Bathinda, said, “I have also got the first jab and in fact hundreds of us have got the first dose. It is up to a person as to whether to get themselves vaccinated or not. However, we do appeal to people coming to dharna because the government has forced us to sit on roads. So, we should get ourselves vaccinated at least as we cannot avoid dharnas till our demands are met.”
So far, first dose of the vaccine has been administered to Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of the union, Roop Singh Chhana, union’ vice president and Jhanda Singh Jethuke, the union’s senior vice president apart from a few other state committee members.
On Wednesday, Ugrahan led farmers on the Khanauri-Jind highway.
‘Op Shakti to courter eviction plans’
Kokrikalan said, ”As an answer to the Union government’s plans of ‘Operation Clean Up’, we organised ‘Operation Shakti’ and went in large numbers to Tikri despite the fact that farmers are busy with harvesting these days. In Punjab, our pakka dharnas are going on at 40 different places. We are facing problems in procurement of wheat as well in Punjab but still, our batches will continue to go to Delhi borders.”
Farmers fighting both govt and corona: SKM
Reacting to some allegations that farmers’ dharnas were obstructing transportation of oxygen cylinders, Dr Darshan Pal, coordinator of Samyukta Kisan Morcha said, “The BJP IT cell is constantly campaigning that the farmers’ dharnas are obstructing the fight against corona. Some propaganda is being spread that farmers have stopped trucks of oxygen and other essentials on the borders of Delhi. Farmers are also being accused of spreading corona. SKM condemns and opposes all these false narratives. Farmers have never intended to sleep on the streets and stay away from their homes and land. The government has inhumanly imposed these laws on the farmers. The farmers are not asking for anything new, they are only fighting to save what they have. In this battle of existence, they are fighting against both corona and the government.”
He added,” The government is running away from its responsibilities at the time of the corona pandemic but is ironically choosing to blame farmers. In fact, on humanitarian grounds, farmers have been more than willing to assist locals and others despite the serious hardships that they find themselves in during the ongoing protests. Protesting farmers had kept service roads open for essential services right from the time they had to squat at the borders. The barricades put up by the police are the biggest obstacle to free vehicular movement. We appeal to the government to remove the obstacles that they have put up to lock in Delhi, so that ordinary citizens do not face difficulties and emergency medical services can run as normal.”