ON NEW YEAR’S EVE, the wind on the Ghazipur flyover, on National Highway 24, was cold and harsh, and the temperature was creeping towards zero. A quiet stage stood on one side of the flyover. Three historical figures kept watch from larger-than-life posters next to the stage: the farmer leaders Chowdhary Charan Singh and Mahender Singh Tikait, and the socialist freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
Surrounding them lay their followers: thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, blocking a major road into Delhi to protest farm laws recently enacted by the Narendra Modi government. The layout of their camps—a patchwork of plastic, polyester and tarpaulin tents—mirrored the geography of the places they called home. Farmers from the flat-lands of western Uttar Pradesh spread out on the level ground below the flyover; those from the terai, or foothills, were on the slip roads; and the ones from hilly Uttarakhand perched atop the flyover.