New Delhi: With no significant breakthrough in sight, it has been reported that the crowd of farmers gathered around Delhi borders at Ghazipur and Singhu is thinning as the protest against the new farm laws entered its 83rd day. Many of the farmers are on their way back to the villages. Out of the thousands who were camping at the protest site barely a month ago, only half the number remains now.
When asked if the protest is fizzling out, farmers replied that since it is going be a long battle and that having less crowd at the borders is part of their new strategy
The farmers' primary focus is now on holding massive rallies across states to garner more support for the agitation. Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait has also planned mahapanchayats across the country and will be attending a series of such meetings in Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan over the next 10 days.
Over the last months, talks with the government have been at a deadlock, with neither side ready to back down. The farmers have refused to accept the government's offer of an 18-month freeze on the three laws while negotiations continue.
"What if 10 lakh people gather here? Will the government take back these laws? We will protest in the entire country, in all the districts our people are spreading. Meetings are taking place," Rakesh, a protesting farmer said.
"At first, the agitation was centralized at the borders, keeping in mind the stubbornness of the government," said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, a spokesperson of the Ghazipur Protest Committee. "The farmer leaders are changing their strategy as well, so that the protest can reach every house in every village. We are holding Mahapanchayats at different locations," he added.
"We need to utilize the energy of the youth, so while spreading the word, the farmers can also carry on with their work. Now it is not just the border but a farmer in his field is also equally part of it," added Mr Bajwa.
Activists taking part in the agitation say decentralisation of the agitation is an important step.
"In Punjab, Haryana and other places there have been smaller agitations. Now they are intensifying," said Ramon Magsaysay awardee and activist Sandeep Pandey.
So far, Punjab and Haryana have been the epicentre of the protests, while farmers in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have participated to a lesser extent. There have been some participation in states like Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.