NEW DELHI: Sidda Virappan squatted, feeling dejected, under the punishing sun. Literally living on the road for a long time now, he is among the thousands of farmers who have come to Ghazipur Border from across the country to protest against the contentious farm laws enacted by the central government.
“We are far away from our homes because the government has left us with no other option. It has left us on the road,” fumed Virappan, who hails from Karnataka. As one enters the Ghazipur protest site from the ‘main entrance’ of the camp site, a hut with two to three men can be found inside. They guard the barrier placed by the organisers. After a brief probing about the visitor’s whereabouts, entry to the camp is allowed.
Sixty-two-year-old Virappan was sitting outside his tent with a few of his friends. Most of the tents that came up here initially were just temporary arrangements. However, as the weather of the city changed from chilling winter to a scorching summer and then to rainy season, the camp too went through certain transformation. Fans, coolers, mattresses, air conditioners and mirrors can be seen inside many tents as the protesters decided not to backtrack from their demands.
A maize farmer, Virappan said the price of the crop has been falling steadily. “The price of maize is falling every year in my state because of the flawed policy of Modi. He has completely forgotten farmers, but we are here to make sure that he does not,” he said. Staying far away from home, he is troubled more by Delhi’s weather. “The daytime temperature is unbearable. I am not used to this heat, but trying to survive, what to do?” Virappan said.
The changed season seems to have some effects on the number of protesters. A few months ago, Ghazipur was brimming with protesters from western UP and Haryana. The scene is different now. Only a small fraction of farmers could be seen. The main stage which attracted the eyeballs of the entire nation with fiery speeches of farmer leaders and social activists is now quite, only a man could be seen on the stage; he was sleeping.