Punjab student travels from US to stand with farmers
New Delhi: Had it not been for the farmers’ protest against the new agri laws that began over a month ago, 22-year-old Navpal Singh would have never planned a trip home at this time from Texas in the US, where he is a student.
“This protest forced me to come here,” said the mechanical engineering student whose father and grandfather are farmers.
“The last time I had come home was less than a year ago…in March, so I had no plans whatsoever to visit again, but the way this protest has taken over this country and also the world, I couldn’t stay away,” he said.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at multiple Delhi borders against the new agri laws.
Singh arrived in India on Monday and has been travelling between Singhu and his ancestral village in Punjab’s Jalandhar every day since.
Even though he is not a farmer himself, Singh felt the need to be part of the protest because of his farming roots that have provided for his education.
“People might think I have no direct connection with farming…that I am studying in the US, I will also work and get married there, but my father and grandfather are farmers.
“I wouldn’t have been able to have my life in the US without the farmers. And now it is my responsibility to come forward and stand with them in their fight for their rights,” he said.
Several rounds of talks with the government have failed to break the deadlock with the government pushing the new legislations as important reforms in the agricultural sector.
The next round of talks is scheduled on Friday.
The farmers on the other hand have maintained that they want the three laws to be repealed.
They have also threatened to enter Delhi on January 26 if their demands are not met.
About the stalemate between the government and the farmers, Singh said it was the former’s way of “breaking their spirit”.
“By scheduling talks after talks, the government is trying to simply drag the protest as long as it can, and hoping that it would eventually break our spirits, but they are mistaken.
“A movement like this does not happen every now and then. Today’s rally alone has shown our strength and numbers,” said Singh, who will return to Texas on January 18.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.