Delhi

Elderly, women protesters refuse to back off

Time to rejoice: Elated at the announcement, farmers break into a dance at the Singhu border.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Even as farmers protesting at the Singhu border heaved a sigh of relief after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to repeal the three farm laws early on Friday, the elderly and women protesters said they were determined to hold fort and not step back despite several obstacles they have faced in the way. They said they will continue to protest with renewed energy.

Elderly farmers, who along with several women protesters helmed the protest and were an integral part of it, said they have ignored their age-related ailments throughout the year and survived the Capital’s blistering summers and chilly winters just like any young protester.

Ninety-year-old Bawa, who hails from Moga in Punjab, said nothing else has bothered him other than the three farm laws and what mattered was to see them being repealed. “We don’t have any problems either in the summer or winter...we are here for a reason and it is way too important,” the nonagenarian told The Hindu.

“Eighty-six and not out”, Nichattar Singh, who comes from Ludhiana in Punjab, proudly introduced himself as he said that he is beyond elated at the announcement.

On cloud nine

“All of us were going with our business when suddenly one of the farmers came running and told me the news... I was on cloud nine,” Mr. Nichattar said.

But he received a call from his family in the morning and they told him to stay put and continue the protest. “I have sworn to not return to my village until the farm laws are repealed...we won’t believe in the PM’s speech, we want it on paper,” he said.

Dafedar, 80, from Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab, said that he has no intention to turn back and return to his village despite the PM’s announcement. “The plan is to not step back...I somehow live here among my farmer brothers and never thought about my age and other ailments; the aim is too important,” he said.

Just motivation

The octogenarian said that he came to the Singhu protest site exactly one year ago with ₹6,500 in his pocket and a pair of clothes. “That’s all I carried with me as I was very motivated to take part in the agitation...even my family back home called me today [Friday] and said that I shouldn’t return and continue to stay here,” he said.

Santok Singh, 78, from Punjab, who received around eight stitches after sustaining injuries on his left eye during tear gas shelling last year and has stayed at the Singhu protest site since the first day, said he doesn’t trust politicians as they can go back on their word.

Women protesters, some of whom have travelled from their villages leaving their children and kin, said the PM’s decision has validated their agitation, which was also a women-led protest.

Paramjeet Kaur, who had come alone from Beas, said she was determined to participate and lead the agitation. “I keep getting calls from my family to return especially after Friday’s decision, but there is a fire inside me that keeps holding me back. Both my sons are farmers and I understand their pain,” Ms. Paramjeet said.

She said she does not feel cold during winters and her vigour to lead the protest keeps her warm. “I have come here for a purpose and I’m willing to sacrifice anything for it,” Ms. Paramjeet said.


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 4:49:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/elderly-women-protesters-refuse-to-back-off/article37590406.ece

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