Punjab villagers headed to Delhi borders swap tractors for buses, trains as mode of travel

4 months ago 27
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On Friday night, batches of farmers left for Bahadurgarh via Punjab Mail which started from Ferozepur and farmers boarded it en route from Bathinda and Mansa, Faridkot as well. (File photo: Amit Mehra)

ON THE call given by BKU Ugrahan, yet another batch of farmers started off for the Tikri border. However, this time, they were seen going in buses instead of convoys of tractors. This change has come about ever since the January 26 episode.

On Friday, villagers from over 700 villages of 15 districts of Punjab went to the Tikri border. A batch went by bus Friday morning while another batch went by Punjab Mail from Ferozepur, with the train making stops at Faridkot, Bathinda and Mansa as well. “they were in thousands, we cannot give an exact count,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary BKU Ugrahan.

“Farmers are going to be part of Guru Ravidass Jayanti and also to observe the martyrdom day of freedom fighter Chander Shekhar Azad on Saturday,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan while talking with The Indian Express. About the changed mode of transport, he said, “People above the age of 50 feel discomfort while going on tractor-trolleys and hence we changed the mode of transport to buses/vans in majority. A few tractors are still going even now. Youngsters still prefer to go via tractors, but already, many tractors are parked at the dharna spot as well. Moreover, it seems to be a long haul against farm laws and hence, we are spending money on transport with restrain now, though each village unit has enough funds.”

Earlier, a number of people were sponsoring fuel for tractors, many others were giving their buses free of cost and farmers had to bear expenses of only fuel. But now the number of vehicles only on fuel has reduced and keeping in mind the summer ahead, farmer unions are spending funds judiciously.

Farmers have yet another event scheduled for Women’s Day on March 8 when women are expected to move to borders in large numbers.

Sources said that after the January 26 episode, farmer unions have become extra cautious. Union leaders indicated that many anti-social elements may also join tractor riders on the way on the pretext of seeking a lift. “Farmers at times stop on the way as well and hence the convoy also breaks. Tractor-trolleys can lead to road accidents as well. So there are multiple reasons for taking fewer tractors towards Delhi now,” said Jagseer Singh Kothaguru from Kothaguru village of Bathinda district.

On Friday night, batches of farmers left for Bahadurgarh via Punjab Mail which started from Ferozepur and farmers boarded it en route from Bathinda and Mansa, Faridkot as well. “We need to carry milk along, hence the train suits us more,” said Gora Singh, from Mansa district.

Youngsters as well as elderly were going in equal numbers, Kokrikalan said. Replying to Lakha Sidhana’s appeal to youngsters to start going towards borders to support kisan unions, he said, “What can we say about him, if he is so confident about the youngsters who are supporting him. they can very well organise a dharna at any border of Delhi. I don’t want to go much into his statements. All the unions are on one platform on the issue of farm laws and so are the people.”

Sources said a number of villagers have been sent notices by Delhi Police after their tractors were spotted in the national capital on Republic Day. Though farmer union leaders have asked villagers to tear off these notices, sources said this could be another reason for taking fewer tractors towards Delhi borders.

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