Jubilant mood at Singhu border but farmers want repeal of farm laws stamped, sealed and delivered

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on November 19, said that the three contentious agri laws would be repealed. Gaon Connection visited the Singhu Border, one of the sites at Delhi’s border where farmers have been protesting since November 26 last year, to gauge the mood after the announcement. Here’s what the farmers said.

Sarah Khan
| Updated: Last updated on November 22nd, 2021,

Singhu Border, New Delhi

There is a sense of jubilation at the Singhu border, on the border of the national capital. Toddlers with yellow Kisan flags walk around, while music blares from speakers fixed on tractors. Young men distribute laddoos.  

November 19 was also Guru Parab, the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that the three farm laws implemented by the central government in 2020 were to be repealed, made the celebrations even more jubilant. There was happiness and cautious optimism.

“It feels as if this announcement is a gift from our Guru. We are very happy that the announcement was made on Gurupurab,” Nachatter Singh Grewal, a farmer from Burj Hari Singh Wala village in Ludhiana district, Punjab told Gaon Connection

Also Read : WATCH: Couldn’t convince farmers about their benefits, have decided to repeal the farm laws, says PM Modi

The eighty six year old has been at the Singhu Border since November 26, 2020, along with hundreds of other farmers,  protesting against the three farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – that were passed by the Central government in September 2020. 

86 years old Nachatter Singh Grewal celebrating with farmers at Singhu Border. Photo by : Sarah Khan

While the farmers are happy at the announcement, they do not have any intention of wrapping up the protest and returning home right away. They will continue at the protest site, they said till the matter of compensation for the families of the people who died in the last one year at the protest site has to be sorted out. They will also wait till the laws are officially repealed in Parliament and the Guaranteed MSP Act is implemented, they said. 

About an hour after the PM’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws, Rakesh Tikait, Bharatiya Kisan Union chief, stated that the farmers’ agitation would continue till the laws were repealed by the Parliament after due legislative procedure. He also demanded that the government discuss other standing issues of the farmers such as the minimum support price.

Also Read: Highest opposition to the new agri laws among northwest region farmers; greatest support in the west region: Gaon Connection Rural Survey

Sitting in a corner, talking to an army of young boys is Madhav Singh.  The sixty year old farmer from Patiala who joined the protest two months ago, said, “Who knows whether the laws will actually be repealed or not? By making the announcement, (PM) Modi is expecting us to leave. We won’t,” he said.  

“We will leave only when our other demands are met. About 700 people have died, we won’t budge until some compensation is provided to their families by the government,” said Singh, thumping his laathi on the ground for emphasis. 

Board set up by Mitti Aid at Singhu Border. Photo by : Sarah Khan

A board outside Mitti Aid, an aid station at the Singhu Border set up by  Ajit Pal, a volunteer at the protest site,  records a total of 719 deaths of protesting farmers. The board is routinely updated with data, information, etc., ever since the onset of the protest that began on November 26, 2020. 

“We are happy but we will be happier if the Guaranteed MSP Act is also implemented. We don’t trust the government. It has made tall promises that are yet to be fulfilled,” Shameem Chaudhary, a farmer from Baghpat, Haryana  told Gaon Connection.  

Also Read: Two out of five farmers fear the farm laws will end the MSP system; 59% want MSP as a mandatory law

“We were labelled as atankwadi, naxalwadi, Pakistani, Khalistani and today we have become farmers again. We are farmers and shall always be. We will not return until the laws are officially repealed in the Parliament and are approved by the President,” she added.

Many farmers also believe that the announcement could be mere optics for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections. “There is an increasing anti-BJP sentiment, especially in Uttar Pradesh. We have been protesting for the last one year, so why was the announcement made today,” asked Bahadur Singh, a farmer from Morinda, Punjab. “This is because of the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh. The government and corporates think that they can collude and break us, however it’s not easy to break people from Punjab,” declared the farmer who has been protesting at Singhu since a year.  

Sweets were distributed at the protest side to mark dual celebrations. Photo by : Sarah Khan

Talking about the government’s  turnaround over the farm laws, Gautam Chikarmane, a writer and the Vice President at Observer Research Foundation told Gaon Connection, “PM Narendra Modi is a reformer Prime Minister. He is known for implementing stringent policies; however this move to roll-back the farm laws is totally out of character. I am unable to fathom this move of his, it’s a disastrous step from the economy’s perspective and I don’t think he is going to gain out of this politically.