Farmers fight tear gas with toothpaste and multani mitti

Some of them even brought along paddy winnowing fans to change the direction of the smoke emanating from the tear gas shells

February 15, 2024 01:23 am | Updated 01:11 pm IST - Chandigarh

A protester using eye drops for relief from tear gas shelling at Shambhu Barrier on February 14, 2024.

A protester using eye drops for relief from tear gas shelling at Shambhu Barrier on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The farmers protesting at Shambhu, located on the Punjab-Haryana boundary, are adopting desperate means to defend themselves against the continuous tear gas shelling by the police.

On Wednesday, celebrated as Basant Panchami in parts of India, protesting farmers flew kites, an integral part of the festival.

Also read: Centre calls for talks yet again, but farmers seek ‘positive’ offer

Gagandeep Singh, a farmer protesting at the site, said, “We brought the kites to celebrate the festival, but then the drones came. Accidentally, the string of the kite got entangled with the fans of the drone, making it difficult for it to fly. We tried to pull it down, but it pulled back and fell on the other side of the barricades.”

Some farmers were seen applying a thick layer of toothpaste while others took to a mix of multani mitti (mud pack) and water to ease the burning sensation caused by tear gas. Some of them even brought along paddy winnowing fans to change the direction of the smoke emanating from the tear gas shells. Amit Punia, one of the protesters, said: “The tear gas is irritating the skin and eyes, causing unbearable burning sensation. Since Colgate and multani mitti have a cooling effect, we are using them to protect our skin.”

Another farmer at Shambhu said many farmers have difficulty in breathing because of the tear gas. “Some farmers have been vomiting since yesterday and we are protecting ourselves with goggles, a paste of multani mitti and water as well as wet cloth over our face and nose,” says Manjeet Singh.

Remains of the tear gas canisters fired by the police at farmers on February 14, 2024.

Remains of the tear gas canisters fired by the police at farmers on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

Mahesh Choudhary, coordinating the media for the Kisan Majdoor Morcha, said, “It is impossible to combat the tear gas attacks; we don’t have the means for it. It was quite symbolic that a kite could come in the way of a drone though. So far, we have been using wet jute bags on tear gas shells to protect ourselves and having salt to ease the burning sensation.”

Meanwhile, Tejveer Singh, spokesperson of the BKU Shaheed Bhagat Singh, said there was continuous tear gas shelling on the protesting farmers even on Wednesday. “Yesterday, the shelling continued till nearly 2 a.m. and resumed around 8 a.m. Nearly 200 people have been wounded here,” he said.

Farmers fly kites at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024.

Farmers fly kites at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

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