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Farmers with tractors, hookahs & chaupar — rare photos of protests at Delhi’s Boat Club

The Boat Club became one of the main areas for holding agitations in Delhi after the 1988 farmers' protest. Prominent leaders would only hold rallies at the club.

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New Delhi: As thousands of farmers continue to camp at the Delhi-Haryana border in protest against the new farm laws, parallels are being drawn to the October 1988 Boat Club agitation in the capital city. Nearly five lakh farmers had occupied the Boat Club and its lawns, near the North and South Blocks, with a litany of demands before the Rajiv Gandhi government.

The movement, lead by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, was initially planned to last for one day but went on for nearly a week. The protest had halted VIP movement in the area, days before the Parliament’s winter session was about to start.

This agitation catapulted Tikait into the limelight, as he emerged as one of the prominent farmer leaders.

In the months and years after the agitation, Boat Club also became one of the major areas for holding agitations, much before Jantar Mantar became the usual site for protests in Delhi. Prominent leaders, with large following, would only hold rallies in the Boat Club.

ThePrint’s National Photo Editor Praveen Jain brings some rare pictures from his personal archives of protests that took place at the Boat Club in 1988 and thereafter.

Mahendra Singh Tikait leader of the farmer protest that happened in Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Mahendra Singh Tikait (centre) surrounded by farmers at the Boat Club protest in 1988 | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Lakhs of farmers were at the Rajpath protesting against Rajiv Gandhi government | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Farmers also gathered at the Rajpath in 1988 in protest against the Rajiv Gandhi government | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Farmers play the game Chaupar while sitting in the laws of Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A group of farmers playing chaupar (a board game) in the lawns of the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Farmers gathered at the Rajpath with tractors and trollies | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Farmers gathered at the Rajpath with tractors and trolleys | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tikait sits between the farmers, smoking hookah | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tikait sits among the farmers, as he smokes hookah | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Protesting farmers surround the dead body of a farmer, who lost his life in the protest at Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Farmers surround the body of a farmer who had lost his life during the 1988 protest at Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Mahendra Singh Tikait taking shower under a tube well in his village Siauli, Uttar Pradesh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tikait taking a shower under a tube well in his village Siauli, Uttar Pradesh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tikait comes out wearing a dhoti after taking bath | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tikait comes out wearing a dhoti after his bath | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Freedom fighter and politician Raj Narain sat on a fast in Boat Club| Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Freedom fighter and politician Raj Narain (lying down) on fast during another protest at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
(From left to right) Former PM Chandra Shekhar Singh, BSP founder Kanshi Ram, former CM of Haryana Hukam Singh and former CM of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala| at a rally in Boat ClubPhoto: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
(From left to right) Former PM Chandra Shekhar Singh, BSP founder Kanshi Ram, former CM of Haryana Hukam Singh and former CM of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala at a rally at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal (right) and former CM of Karnataka Ramakrishna Hegde at Boat club during a rally at Boat Club| Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former deputy PM Devi Lal (right) and former CM of Karnataka Ramakrishna Hegde during a rally at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addresses a rally at Boat Club| Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressing a rally at the Boat Club| Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former PM Rajiv Gandhi after attending a rally at Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Former PM Rajiv Gandhi after attending a rally at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
vishwanath pratap singh
Former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh addressing a rally at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Maneka Gandhi
BJP leader Maneka Gandhi with her son Varun Gandhi at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
George Fernandes
Former defence minister George Fernandes (L) with Arun Nehru (R) during a rally at the Boat Club | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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1 COMMENT

  1. It seems to me that the mind set of people engaged in farming has remained unchanged during last several centuries. It is the fear of change, rather than the effect of the proposed changes which has frightened them to engage in this agitation. Maa-Baap sircar along with intermediaries has kept the farmers in bond and these fools are like Ostrich with head buried in sand. They don’t realise that their enemies are the commission agents and APMC not the Farm law reforms.

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