A mahasabha called to mark the “Shaheed Diwas” in Nawanshahr Tuesday turned into a show of unity and strength of the farmers unions protesting against the Centre’s farm laws with leaders announcing they will not withdraw their stir till the legislations are repealed.
March 23 is observed as “Shaheed Diwas” to pay tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, who were hanged on this day for killing British police officer J P Saunders. Tuesday was the 90th anniversary of the trio’s martyrdom day.
The mahasabha that was to be held at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh, had to be shifted to to Dana Mandi at Banga after heavy rain last night damaged tent at the original venue. The programme was attended, among other, by several religious groups, youth activists, Punjabi artistes, athletes and NRIs.
Unlike the political conferences which used to take place every year at Khatkar Kalan, every speaker at the mahasabha gave a clarion call to carry on the fight started by the three martyrs.
Addressing the gathering, BKU (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “BJP has recruited 3,700 persons in its IT cell to defame the farmer leaders and the farmers’ protest. They are abusing us and spreading lies about us. In the first four meetings with the Centre on the agri laws, we discussed every single clause with the government and proved that they (legislations) are anti-national and anti-Constitution. Then the Centre prepared a long list of amendments for these laws, which we rejected. Then a minister asked us to find way which can save the government and the farmers’ honour. What does this mean? It means that the government got defeated and is now making excuses and avoiding facing us.”
“It is going to be a tough fight. The government is afraid of you (people). The entire world is looking at Punjabis…we need to be united and be ware of this government, which called us khalistanis, Pakistanis,” he said.
The farmers’ fight, he said is now a “corporate verus people” fight. “Now the farmers of other countries too are looking at their governments for getting their rights,” he added.
He said, earlier it was termed as Punjab and Haryana movement, then north India movement, but when farmers from 21 states stopped trains, it forced the government’s mouth shut, said Rajewal.
Dr. Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said, “This movement has been giving sleepless nights to the central government that tried to create a divide but failed. Now, in every state, Hindus and Muslims are unitedly attending kisan mahapanchyats. This movement has spread across the country and its heat will singe the BJP government.”
Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president of BKU Sidhupur, called upon the youth to wage the battle that Bhagat Singh had started.
Addressing the gathering, Punjabi singer Babbu Maan urged the Centre to repeal the laws. Maan appealed to farmers’ organisations across the country to unite under one banner to save their interests.
Earlier, the state-level martyrdom day function, an annual feature, was cancelled at Khatkar Kalan in the wake of a surge in coronavirus cases.