Farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws are teaming up with Dalits as part of their plan to take the protest across the country. The idea is to focus on eliminating the caste divide and give the protest a pan-Indian, broader base. A mahapanchayat with Dalits was held in Haryana’s Hisar today, at the town of Barwala, which was attended by farm union leader Gurnam Chadhuni.
Twenty per cent of Haryana’s population belongs to the Scheduled Castes.
At the meeting, Mr Chadhuni called for greater cohesion between farmers and Dalits. A resolution was passed asking farmers to have images of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar in their homes. Dalits were asked to keep images of Sir Chotu Ram — a prominent Jat political leader in British India.
“Our fight is not only against the government but also against the capitalists,” Mr Chadhuni said. “The government has been dividing us till date, sometimes in the name of caste or sometimes in the name of religion. Understand this conspiracy of the government,” he added.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Chadhuni appealed to the leaders not to hold such mahapanchayats in Haryana and Punjab. “Punjab and Haryana are aware of the farm laws. The need now is to focus on other states,” he said.
“The labourers should understand that the battle against the three agricultural laws is not just for the farmers. The farmers will do their bit, but the working class will suffer the most for it. Therefore, I would request the working class to contribute more and more to this movement,” he said.
Speaking on the coming panchayat election, he asked his audience to vote for anyone except the BJP-backed candidates.
Earlier this week, the farmers held a four-hour countrywide “rail roko” to drive home their message.
While the government had called the laws major reforms in the sector that would increase the farmers’ income by removing middlemen and allowing them to sell their produce directly to traders, the farmers said the laws would end in phasing out the support process guaranteed by the government and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
They have also accused the government of framing the laws to aid the private sector.