'Repeal farm laws first': Farmers denounce Modi government's Kartarpur move
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government announced the reopening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Wednesday following months of closure. It said the move reflected the immense reverence of the Centre toward "Guru Nanak Dev Ji and our Sikh community." However, for thousands of Sikhs and farmers protesting against the three new agricultural laws, it is not enough. Here's what they say.
Why does this story matter?
The Centre's decision to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor came months before the Punjab Assembly elections which are due to be held early next year. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules Centre but has little following in northern state, would have hoped to garner support in view of the polls. However, farmers say they will not fall for the BJP's "ploy."
'Not going to fall into this trap'
Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leader Darshan Pal said Sikhs would be happy when the government withdraws farm laws. "If the government really wants to give something to Punjab, they should repeal the farm laws and send the farmers' home. People are smart...Punjab, particularly farmers and that too Sikhs, are not going to fall into this trap," he said, according to The Wire.
700 farmers died during protest, leader alleges
Meanwhile, BKU Doaba chief Manjit Singh Rai called the decision a political stunt. "Can't they see that 700 farmers died during the farmers' protest in one year? 90% of those who died during the protest were Sikhs themselves. If the Modi government really respects Guru Nanak Dev and the Sikh community, they would have rolled back the three farm laws," Rai said.
'Nobody in Punjab wants to talk about BJP'
Gurwinder Sanghera, a farmer from Hoshiarpur district, said the move will not help the BJP. "The harsh reality is that nobody in Punjab wants to even talk about BJP. I faced 200 quintal losses in paddy crop from 10 acres of land this year but that didn't deter my spirit. Like me, many farmers are committed to the farmers' protest," he told The Wire.
Why are the farmers protesting?
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest against the new agricultural laws passed last year. They are demanding a complete withdrawal of the laws and multiple rounds of discussions between them and the government have failed to end the deadlock. Farmers' leaders allege that hundreds of protesters died due to various reasons, including road accidents, suicide, and violence.
Kartarpur Corridor reopened on Wednesday
The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor reopened on Wednesday allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit the revered shrine in Pakistan. It is a 4.7-kilometer-long corridor that provides visa-free access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. It was opened in November 2019 but remained shut since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening comes just days ahead of the festival of Gurpurab on Friday, November 19.