Gazipur- Solidarity among farmers at the Ghazipur border protest site showed no signs of waning on Saturday with their leaders reaffirming their resolve to carry on the long-drawn movement against the new farm laws.
Days after BKU leader Rakesh Tikait's emotional appeal had galvanised farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to flock to the Delhi-UP border site, several farmers said, "the fight shall go on against all odds."
Tikait on Saturday addressed a huge crowd at the protest site, which has become a new focal point of the agitation after his teary-eyed speech when the number of farmers at Ghazipur border seemed to have thinned after the January 26 violent clashes.
He reaffirmed the resolve of the farmers in this agitation, saying they have fought this battle for over two months now, and "they won't relent or retreat".
A man from Amritsar offered water to Tikait on the dais, saying "The tears shed by Tikait ji were not just tears, they were tears of a farmer, from which solidarity has grown."
In various camps at Ghazipur border, farmers PTI spoke to still tremble at the mention of the infamous Red Fort incident of unfurling a religious flag from the ramparts of the national monument and the violent clashes that preceded.
"Those people who did it, they are not our people. That faction had an ulterior motive, and what happened on January 26, seemed to be part of a plan by our detractors to defame and weaken our movement which has been going strong," said 75-year-old D P Singh, member of the Central Kisan Committee of All India Kisan Sabha.
"Yes, we were emotionally hurt by the incident and all the aspersions cast on us after it, but that incident has not affected our movement, it has only grown stronger, with more solidarity coming from people," he said.
At Ghazipur , a multitude of green-and-white caps, symbolic of the unions fronting the battle, flags of unions and tricolours, planted on tractors, dot the highway.
On various tractors and camps, photos of legendary leaders such as Chaudhary Charan Singh and Mahendra Singh Tikait, and slogans like 'I Love Kheti' and like 'Garv se Kaho Kisan ke Putra ho', seek to pump up energy among the farmers, whose enthusiasm had ebbed away a bit in the wake of Republic Day incident and fears of a crackdown by security forces on the night of January 28.
However, the emotional outburst of Rakesh Tikait again galvanised people and many from parts of western Uttar Pradesh continued to stream in on Saturday too.
Pankaj Pradhan, 52, head of Charaura village in Bulandshahr, who arrived in the afternoon along with seven other people to Ghazipur border protest site, became emotional, recalling the night of January 28.
"We were all awake, watching Tikait ji crying, some were glued to TV sets, others on mobile phones, and we all felt restless. I was moved to tests too, and women too got emotional. But, his tears touched a chord with everyone, and made them connect stronger to the movement," he said.
Farmers also came from Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and other parts of Uttar Pradesh, many of whom addressed the crowd at the protest site.
All of them alleged that "attempts were made to malign this movement" and "defame it", but the agitation has "come out stronger".
Anil Chaudhary, who came from Bulandshahr too, rued what happened at Red Fort and in the streets of Delhi on January 26, and said, "it did hurt our morale".
"But, we feel stronger now, and Tikaitji's tears brought me here. Every person in my village is touched by his emotional appeal. And, our solidarity will only grow from here, even though they may stack up odds against us," he said.
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