Though the farmers agitation in Punjab is primarily led by farmer unions with substantial political support, “Khaps”, the community organisations representing a clan or a group of related clans, spearhead the movement in Haryana, which has witnessed a late surge in agitation.
Four days after the November 26 farmers unions’ call for “Dilli Chalo”, hundreds of farmers from across 59 villages in and around Charki Dadri district in Haryana held a “panchayat” under the aegis of “Sangwan Khap” to express their solidarity with the agitators.
The “Sangwan Khap”, one of the first few community organisations in Haryana to extend support to the agitation, also persuaded its president and Independent Dadri MLA Sombir Sangwan to resign as the Chairman of Haryana Livestock Development Board and withdraw support to the BJP-JJP coalition government.
“Around 1,500 people in 300-odd vehicles, including cars and tractor-trolleys, reached the Tikri border to hold a permanent sit-in on December 1. Later, two batches of 500 farmers each from among them went Shahjhanpur and Dhadsa (Badli-Najafgarh) borders to hold sit-ins. Another batch of around 300 farmers is expected in a couple of days,” said Narsingh Sangwan, general secretary, “Sangwan Khap”. He added that support to the agitation from Haryana had grown over the past 3-4 days.
150 ‘Khaps’ in State
He claimed that Haryana had around 150 “Khaps”, mostly across Hisar, Rohtak, Sonipat, Bhiwani, Palwal and Panipat, and almost all were in support of the agitation. “Khaps are social organisations with the support of all 36 communities in Haryana. These organisations wield more political and social influence then the unions. ‘Khaps’ have a glorious past in Haryana. Even kings were bound by the decisions of ‘Khap’ panchayats,” he said.
Harnarayan Boora, president of “Boora Khap”, with presence in around a dozen villages in Hisar, said the villagers supplied flour, vegetables, milk, tea leaves and other essential items to the protesters in Delhi on alternate days.
“We don’t seek any publicity or recognition for this by putting up posters or banners on our vehicles, because it is our own fight. It is not as if we are supporting any one. The farmers from Punjab were the first to come and the ‘Khaps’ from Haryana joined the movement a little later. Even ex-servicemen and retired teachers have come out in support of the movement now,” said Mr. Boora, adding that government must find a quick solution to the agitation since it had now began hurting industry and workers as well.
The “Dalal Khap” has set up a “langar” (community kitchen) at Sarai Aurangabad village near the Tikri border, serving around 4000-odd people every day. One of the largest “Khaps” in Haryana, it has presence in 172 villages across Rewari, Jhajjar, Jind, Rohtak, Sonipat and Charki Dadri districts. Bhoop Singh Dalal of the “Dalal Khap” said the representatives of the “Khap” were holding sit-ins at the Tikri and Singhu borders.
The president of Binain Khap, Chaudhary Nafe Singh Nain, held a meeting on December 2 at Danoda village in Jind to give a call for support to the agitation.
“A large number of farmers in around a 100 tractors and trolleys left from several villages of the ‘Khap’ to reach Tikri. Many more have joined the agitation since. The ‘Binain Khap’ has presence in 52 villages, including Haryana and Punjab,” said All-India Kisan Sabha, secretary (Jind), Chand Bahadur Nain, who was present in the meeting.