A long queue of tractors parked alongside Tolstoy Marg in the heart of Delhi served as the first mark of a farmers’ meeting ahead on the way to Jantar Mantar.
As one neared the protest hub, “Hazaaron Hazaaron ki uthegi awaaz, khatam karo punji ka raj,” could be heard.
At the scene, thousands of farmers, under the leadership of social activist Anna Hazare, looked determined to pressure the government into withdrawing its land acquisition ordinance, which most of the protesters described as “draconian”.
Many young volunteers were spotted wearing a badge, “I am a Anna supporter”. Reminiscent of the 2011 anti-corruption movement, hundreds sported white Gandhian caps with the slogan, “I am a farmer”, written over it.
There were two stages at the venue. Haraze maintained that this movement was not a political one. But the two venues in no way divided the farmers. People at both the stages were equally charged up.
A large number of women farmers were present, matching their voice with their male counterparts, in colourful cotton sarees.
Chotey Lal, a farmer from Allahabad, said, “We are already burdened with the falling prices of our basmati crop and now this ordinance threaten my land too. What will I do if tomorrow the government wants to set up a factory on my land. What will my children eat?”
Swami Malai, 52, from the Kaveri Nadi farmer’s protection association, has come from Tamil Naidu, carrying rice saplings. He was angry at the lowering of the minimum support price of crops.
Suder Vimal, from Andhra Pradesh, said, “The government should make us shareholders in the projects they wish to set up on our lands.”