As the iconic Ram Lila Maidan here became the haunt for the night for thousands of farmers, echoes of demands for their "haq" (right) resonated in the crisp Delhi winter air.
As the iconic Ram Lila Maidan here became the haunt for the night for thousands of farmers, echoes of demands for their “haq” (right) resonated in the crisp Delhi winter air. These farmers, who marched to the Ramlila Ground on Thursday, will take out a rally to Parliament Street on Friday to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
“Ab haq ke bina bhi kya jeena, yeh jeene ke samaan nahi (Live has no meaning without rights),” sang one of the performers at the ‘Kisan Night’ organised to lift up the spirits of the farmers. Farmers converged in the national capital Thursday from different corners of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, to participate in the two-day Kisan March.
Rita Devi (40) from Lakhanpur in Bihar, who is attending the march, has no agricultural land, and neither a home to live in. She lost her single-room hut that accommodated her, her husband, eight children and also a goat and a couple of hens, when it was razed to the ground during the construction of a bypass road through her village.
“We have no land of our own to grow crops. There is no earning. And, now we don’t even have a house because of the bypass. How will we live?” she said. Devi is among the over 100 farmers who have travelled from Bihar to march for their “haq”.
Disgruntlement with the government was also the mood of the evening. The grievances of 68-year-old Sauraaj Singh are aplenty. Hailing from Hapur in Uttar Pradesh, Singh, who is a sugarcane farmer, said, “There is no money for sugarcane. There is no electricity. Government has been talking about waiving off loans, but that hasn’t happened.” His dissappointments are shared by Vijay Manjhi and Gorelal Ram from Nawada district in Bihar.
“We are small time farmers with no land of our own. If the harvest dies because of insufficient rain, there is nothing we can do,” Gorelal Ram said. “Be it (Bihar Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar or (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, this double engined government is a failure. They say a lot of things, but there is no ground work,” Manhjhi said, in agreement with the songs playing in the backdrop — “Mere voton ko janne ka haq hai, Kyun ek din bade bade vaade, Kyun paanch saal koi kaam nahi”.
The historic ground, known for hosting big political events over the years, started filling up on Thursday from about 10.30 am, and arrangements have been made for the farmers to sleep in tents. Some will move to nearby gurudwaras, organisers said.