In a desperate bid to revive the dwindling farmers’ agitation after the ugly January 26 episode in which the farmers ran a shameless riot across the national capital and at the iconic Red Fort, village panchayats from Punjab and Haryana have taken to pass resolutions and issue diktat, mandating that every family register for participation in the protests at the borders of Delhi. Failing to comply by such diktats will result in villagers being fined and also facing an indefinite social boycott. Effectively, anyone could be supportive of the three farm reforms in the said villages, but would still be fined for not participating in the protest.
If the villagers do not pay a fine, and neither go to the various protest sites on the borders of Delhi they would be subjected to social boycott. Such draconian diktats being issued by panchayats across villages in Punjab and Haryana should ideally call for strict action being taken against the khaps. Several meetings by panchayats were organised in villages on Saturday, to mobilise support by sending villagers to the protests at Delhi.
According to the Tribune, around a dozen villages in Bathinda and Mansa unanimously passed a resolution of having at least one family member of each family in the village go to the protest on a rotational basis or else they would have to pay a fine. Panchayats in Phul, Phooli, Kotbhaktu, Kararwala and others passed the resolution in support of the farmers’ agitation. The resolution said that those not complying with the decision will be fined Rs 1,500 and if a person refuses to pay the fine, village will boycott that person.
Sukhwinder Kaur, sarpanch Kotbhaktu village, said, “Today we have organised a meeting of villagers at grain market. In which, a decision was taken, that one member of each house would go to protest on rotational basis, and if one does not go then he has to give a fine of Rs 300 daily, and then also after one week, he does not go, then the family would face social boycott in the village, but all the people were unanimously ready to go to the protest.”
Meanwhile, several khaps in Haryana also passed similar resolutions. One of the state’s most influential khaps, Kandela, held meetings at Kandela village on Friday. Likewise, the Dadan and Barh khaps held their meetings at Uchana and Julana in Jind respectively. The Phogat khap met in Dadri, the Sarv khap in Rohtak, and the Sarv Sheoran khap at Kharkari village in Bhiwani, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. All these khaps also decided to have at least one member of each family sent to the protest sites on the borders of Delhi.
The passage of such desperate resolutions proves that last-minute and forceful measures are now being employed to breathe oxygen into the evaporating agitations. However, higher authorities must ensure that no panchayat is able to carry out their diktats, as that would be thoroughly undemocratic.