Celebrations broke out at the Matka Chowk in Chandigarh on Friday morning after the Prime Minister announced that the three contentious farm laws will be repealed.
Activists who had been sitting at the iconic roundabout since March 6, braving the second wave of Covid-19, monsoon and police intervention, were in a jubilant mood, as they danced to the dhol beats and raised slogans for farmers’ unity.
Labh Singh, the septuagenarian Nihang who has become synonymous with the protest against farm laws at the Matka Chowk, was all smiles too, but said his sit-in will continue to press for other demands.
“We will see whether the government follows through with what the PM has said. We will continue to protest till the government also listens to our demands on minimum support price (MSP) and pays compensation to those who lost their lives during the agitation,” he said.
Many Panjab University student outfits had also been participating at the Matka Chowk protest and turned up there on Friday to celebrate. “The PM’s announcement is the first step. However, radical changes are needed and the government needs to do more for the benefit of farmers,” said Sandeep, president of Students For Society (SFS).
As the announcement coincided with Guru Nanak’s Prakash Purab, protesters could be seen distributing sweets and wishing each other on the auspicious Sikh festival. In the evening, they lit candles and waved flags at the busy intersection. Cops were stationed nearby to ensure law and order.
‘Historic, but just half victory’
While terming the PM’s announcement “historic” and “victory of farmers”, various agricultural organisations in Mohali also welcomed the move.
Lakhwinder Singh, block president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur), said the yearlong agitation of farmers has finally borne fruit. “The PM gave us a big present. However, the laws are yet to be repealed by the Parliament, and at present, this is just a half victory. About 700 farmers have been martyred in this struggle. Also, the government must roll back the electricity act and pollution act, besides bringing in a law to guarantee crop procurement on MSP.”
Meanwhile, the organisation members continued to sit on a dharna at the Azizpur toll plaza and said it will be lifted only after a decision is taken by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha.
Manpreet Singh Bunny Sandhu, vice-chairman, Punjab Agro Industries, and a senior Congress leader, said: “After tasting defeat in the recent bypolls, the BJP government has knelt before the farmers’ demands. This pro-people movement had garnered a lot of support from all over the world.”
Even BJP workers celebrated the occasion. Led by the party’s state executive member Sanjeev Vashisht, some of them reached the farmers’ protest site at the Phase 3/5 light point in Mohali and distributed laddoos to those present there.