New Delhi: Farmers protesting against the Government of India introduced three agricultural laws, have started raising Pucca brick-and-cement structures on the highways at Singhu and Tikri.

Both construction sites fall on the Haryana side of the border. While work has stopped midway at Singhu, it’s yet to halt at Tikri. Those raising the structures say they are preparing for the harsh summer months, Indian Express reported.

The report said that at Tikri border, the first pucca settlement came up on March 12 and a ‘griha pravesh’ was marked by tying an artificial green parrot to the window. Rohtash Gill.

“We have this tradition during house-warming ceremonies in our villages. Around 10-12 of us built the house over two days,” the report quoted a 30-year-old from Jind, who is among the farmers who built the structure, as saying.

Quoting farmers, the report said that the ‘chhappar’ (thatch) was made in their villages in Haryana and sent to the border.

The structure has two windows — one of them frames a cooler placed behind it. The house was constructed keeping ventilation in mind.

“This is how we make houses on the fields as well. We have all made such houses in our villages. There are no professional builders here. We have always been told to build the walls with a few gaps in the middle. That way, we get cool air,” the report quoted Anil Malik, a 41-year-old from Charkhi Dadri in Haryana, as having said.

During the day, farmers place their teacups in these gaps. The house doubles into a headquarters for farmer organisation Kisan Social Army, formed to coordinate social media activities, teach them how to use social media, and ensure that ration reaches those who need it.

Around 100 metres away, another house was being constructed on Saturday afternoon as a team of around 20 farmers placed bricks one on top of the other, the report said adding no authority has objected to them so far.

Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since September 2020 when the parliament of India passed three ‘contentious’ farm laws. Since then, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.

After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they have set up their camps at Delhi borders

In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to address farmers issues, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.

Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district, but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.

Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.

Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.

They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP. Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.

Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.

 

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