Farmers’ union calls ‘compulsory’ meeting at Tikri to take stock of falling attendance numbers at protests

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur) has called a meeting near Tikri border on August 14, making attendance mandatory for all its office bearers, to address the issue of what it feels is dipping participation numbers by its members at protests and dharnas against the three new farm laws.

A letter has been issued to all state, district, and block-level office bearers of the union that states that any office-bearer failing to attend the Saturday meeting, will face strict action by the union.

BKU (Sidhupur) is one of the 32 farmers’ union of Punjab, which is a part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and has been protesting the three farm laws.

Farmers from across Punjab have been camping at Delhi’s borders for more than eight months now to press for the rollback of three contentious farm laws that were passed by the Parliament in September last year. Although the initial participation of protesters at Delhi borders was huge, after the January 26 violence during a supposed tractor parade by farmers, the numbers have been cut down with agitators now being sent in batches to the border to protest. Participation had also reduced during the second wave of Covid, and later when farmers had to return home to harvest wheat and transplant paddy.

Contacted, Sukhmander Singh Dhilwan, block president of BKU (Sidhupur), said, “In the recent past the participation by office-bearers has reduced a bit. But now paddy crop’s most work is done. Therefore, a compulsory meeting of office bearers has been called on Saturday to take stock of dipping attendance at protests. We are the ones who have to guide the others to be a part of these protests against farm laws.”

The letter, issued by BKU (Sidhupur) office bearer, Resham Singh Yatri, however, has not gone down well with all farmers, with some protesting the alleged veiled threat of action that it carried if everyone did not attend the August 14 meeting.
“The letter indicates that it has become difficult for the union to gather people at dharnas and hence a meeting has been called to take stock of the situation. It mentions that office bearers are also not participating fully. It clearly indicates that when dharnas are dragged on for too long, they become difficult to sustain,” said a Mansa-based farmer, strictly on the condition of anonymity.

Dhilwan, however, rubbished the claims of farmers being pressurised. “Independence Day is coming up and hence we have to discuss many issues in the meeting so that we can further guide the members. We don’t want a repeat of the January 26 violence. Hence, the meeting has been made compulsory for all.”
He added, “Sometimes, one needs to maintain discipline as well. No one should read between the lines,” he added.

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