More than a lakh farmers, labourers, including women and children, gathered on Sunday, February 21, in Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Maha rally at Punjab's Barnala city to protest against the Centre's three contentious farm laws.
The aim was to build solidarity between landowning farmers and farm labourers, whose unity, many representatives said, the government was attempting to break.
This is one of the biggest rallies that have taken place ever since the protests started. The union leaders have called on supporters to amass outside the capital on February 27.
It was organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) while Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the BKU (EU) 's wing representing landless farm labourers was prominent at the rally.
The labourers and farmers gathered near the Malwa region, including Barnala, Sangrur, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa and Ludhiana, Caravan reported.
"The division the government has tried to create between farmers and labourers has failed." Balbir Singh Rajewal, who heads the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) was quoted as saying.
Pointing to a poster behind the stage with the title of the rally, he said that the struggle was for and led by the 'mazdoor' (landless labourers) and then followed by the farmers.
The protesters said that it would be the labourers who'll be most affected because of the laws, as nearly 33 per cent of Punjab's population is farm labourers. "We will never allow anyone to decide what should be sown, this is our land, and we will continue ruling it," one of the protesters told the media.
Prominent farmer leaders including the BKU (EU)'s Joginder Singh Ugrahan and Harinder Bindu; Lachhman Singh Sewewala, the general secretary of PKMU; Balbir Singh Rajewal, who heads the BKU (Rajewal); and Ruldu Singh, who heads the Punjab Kisan Sabha, joined the rally.
According to the estimate of the local police, there was a crowd of between 1,20,000 and 1,30,000.