Elderly farmers lead the way in KMP Expressway protest

New Delhi (IANS): Braving the scorching heat, elderly farmers formed the majority of protesters at Haryana’s Palwal toll plaza on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway. Many of these senior citizens told IANS that the rising mercury won’t deter them or dampen their spirits.

Farmers have blocked the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway to mark the 100th day of protests against the three contentious farm laws. The move to block the expressway is a part of the strategy to intensify the ongoing protest.

The tricolour fluttered atop tractors even as loud protest songs and speeches blared from speakers as farmers blocked the expressway. Farmers also sang folk songs in Haryanvi known as ‘Ragini’.

Clad in white dhoti-kurta and turban, elderly farmers from adjacent villages squatted on the road and blocked the Palwal toll plaza on the expressway, almost 85 kilometres from the National capital.

Speaking to IANS, 83-year-old Desh Raj from Aurangabad district said that the rising mercury will not deter him. “We are doing it for our farmer brothers. Age is just a number, we are fighting for the cause. As farmers, we are used to working in extreme temperatures.”

Another farmer said that young people are not so visible in the protests since many of them have work or study-related obligations during the day.

“We did not want their studies or work to suffer. It is our zeal which has brought us here. There are a few young people and women too but mostly elderly people,” said Raj Kumar from Palwal district.

More elderly farmers among crowd at KMP e-way blockade.

Only a handful of women, however, could be spotted at the protest site. An old lady with a hunchback said that she is troubled by the three contentious laws.

“We voted for Narendra Modi so he must also pay heed to our demands. Nonetheless, we have no hope,” said Mangaliya from Atoha area, over two kilometres from Palwal district.

A social worker leading these women said, “We have blocked the KMP expressway today but on March 8, women will lead the protest by blocking the National capital from all sides.”

The six-lane KMP expressway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 2018. It has 10 tolled entry and exit points, 52 underpasses and 23 overpasses. It was built to decongest the busy roads of Delhi, especially by reducing the number of trucks entering the national capital, thus helping to curb pollution.

The farmers’ agitation against the three contentious agricultural laws had begun on November 26 last year. Over these 100 days, farmers have braved harsh weather conditions, but remained firm on their demands.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders of the national capital to demand a repeal of the three farm laws, enacted in September last year.