Chandigarh: Even though the Union government has refused to budge over the last eight months of the farmers’ agitation, a new crop of young leaders has emerged during the turbulence.
They may have different educational backgrounds, but they have a common target: Repeal of three agricultural laws and welfare of the farming community. Even as BKU (Charuni) president Gurnam Singh Charuni continues to be the face of Haryana farmers, these youngsters have established their presence, thanks largely to their oratory skills. Here’s a glimpse of the prominent faces.
In his early 30s, Narwal, a postgraduate, belongs to a village from Baroda assembly constituency of Sonipat district. He has been active at Singhu border since day one of the protests. Initially, he arranged milk and vegetables for farmers and gradually, he has been able to make his place among the leaders who shared stage at the Singhu border and other places. Now, he is expanding his activities at all the borders and other districts. “I have been given a free hand by my family members to serve the community. Now, the agitation point is my home and there is no return till we get the three laws repealed,’’ he said.
Vikas comes from Sisar village and is a law graduate. He is part of the panel of advocates constituted by Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) to defend cases registered against farmers in New Delhi and other places. In his early 30s, Sisar has been associated with the Morcha since the beginning. He was part of the 40-member SKM committee that had been conducting negotiations with the Union government during 11 rounds of talks. Besides defending cases against farmers, Sisar oversees activities in Kaithal, Hisar, Jind, Sirsa and Bhiwani districts and coordinates with the farmers.
Abhimanyu is national president of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh Youth morcha and is said to be among the youngest of those leading the morcha from various fronts. Kohar, 27, is a B.Tech graduate who worked with MNCs before joining the morcha. He started his activism with the Anna Hazaare movement, when he had just started first year of B.Tech from DDU college of engineering, Sonipat. After graduating, Kohar joined the Save Land movement against land acquisition in Haryana and later, he joined the farmers’ movement. He now shuttles between Hisar, Sirsa and other places. “I don’t know why still certain persons like me are sitting back as this is the time when we are fighting a decisive battle to save our lands and our produce. Hence, I am here and my family is supporting me in this fight,’’ said Kohar.
An educationist-turned-farm activist, Suman Hooda heads the women’s wing of BKU (Charuni) group. Like other SKM leaders, she joined the morcha from the first day when farmers started camping at Delhi borders. The 41-year-old from Hisar gave up her job as principal of a reputed private school. She strikes a chord with her fiery speeches, which helps her motivate women across the state. She claims to have full support from the family and in-laws. “We started gearing up when the government passed the three ordinances against farmers. Since then, we have not looked back. Finally, Charuni ji blessed me with the post of head of the women’s wing. Now, at least we can tell the new generation of farmers that we fought for them during the agitation,” she said. Hooda accompanies Charuni in all major programmes and also shares the stage at SKM and Shahjahanpur-Rewari borders.
In her mid 20s, Reeman Nain, a postgraduate student, is a poetess-turned-farm activist. She belongs to a farming family from Khedar area of Hisar district and has charge of Mayyar toll plaza agitation point. Soon after hearing about the farm protests, she walked up to the toll plaza to join the agitation. Now, Reeman heads the women’s wing of agitators at Mayyar toll plaza in Hisar. Two cases of attempt to murder were registered against her when farmers tried to disrupt the function at a makeshift hospital in Hisar which was to be chaired by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Reeman has a collection of motivational poems for farmers and has been leading from the front at the toll plaza. She visits Tikri and Singhu borders frequently.
Manisha, 23, is a wrestler-turned-activist who is known for her leadership qualities and oratory skills. This came handy during agitations held at Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts. Manisha graduated from Hisar and is pursuing BEd degree. As a wrestler, she participated in national level events. “We are a small family of farmers and I have a younger brother. I help my parents in farming by driving a tractor besides other things. My parents were a little worried but later they approved of my participation. I have been treated like a younger sister by farmer leaders at Hisar, Sirsa and Jind,’’ said Manisha. She was among those who were apprehended by the police in Tohana and Hisar. Since she was the only woman in Tohana, police dropped her home in the evening. Even in Sirsa, she was apprehended and was released after farmers started a strike. “Currently, I am having bouts with the government. I shall get back to the ring only after the agitation is over,’’ she quipped.
Yogender Yadav on young farm leaders
“The eight month long agitation has given us a new range of young farmer leaders. They are educated , energetic and full of new thoughts which takes any movement to new heights. These leaders are the by-product of the agitation and they will prove to be makers of Modern India.’’