Farmers head back home after year-long protest on Delhi border, receive rousing welcome

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH, 11 Dec: Singing, dancing and cheering atop their tractor-trolleys, farmers on Saturday began their journey home from Delhi borders after dismantling their tents and other structures at the end of a year-long sit-in against the agri laws and were accorded a rousing welcome with sweets and garlands in the neighbouring states.

Emotions ran high as the farmers performed ‘ardas’ (prayers) and ‘havans’ to thank the almighty and set off towards Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in convoys of tractors, bedecked with colourful flowers and lights and blaring songs of victory.

By 4 PM, less than a quarter of the protesters were left at the Singhu border. Similarly, at the Ghazipur border, the process of dismantling shelters was in full swing, but the protesting farmers said the site will be completely vacated by 15 December.

The headquarters of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) that was the nerve centre of the agitation was deserted on Saturday.

The SKM, an umbrella body of 40 farm unions, was born out of the anti-farm law protests with prominent farmer bodies of Punjab, Haryana and UP joining it.

On 29 November, a bill was passed in Parliament to repeal the laws, one of the main demands of the farmers.

However, the farmers refused to end their protest, demanding that the government fulfill the other demands that included legal guarantee on MSP and withdrawal of police cases against them, forcing the Centre to give a written assurance.

As the Centre accepted the pending demands, the SKM, at its last meeting at its headquarters, decided to suspend the farmers’ movement and announced that farmers will go back home on 11 December from the protest sites on highways at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur after taking out ‘Victory March’.

Farmer leaders said that they will again meet on 15 January to see if the government has fulfilled their demands.

Parliament passed a bill on 29 November to repeal the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and the Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 that were enacted in September last year. (PTI)