At the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana, on Saturday, scores of farmers who have gathered to protest against the newly enacted farm laws , said that they had decided to stay put and not move to the Burari ground, in order to ensure their movement does not die down.
“We are fully prepared to stay here for six months and can stay longer if we are not heard and our demands are not met,” said Dilbag Singh, 25, a farmer from Karnal, adding that every truck standing by for the protest had rations and other necessary items for the period.
Inside a truck, sacks of flour, pulses and potatoes were stacked up; a stove was placed outside with huge utensils; and mattresses were stacked inside and outside the truck. There were also charging points and extra batteries available for mobile phones. Water tankers have been installed at regular intervals and langar provisions have also been made by Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee for anyone who would like to eat.
“We will not go to the Nirankari ground in Burari because once we go there, we’ll just sit there for days and nothing will happen. Here, the border is locked and it’s making an impact,” said Harvinder Singh, 24.
As COVID-19 precautionary measures — including wearing a mask or maintaining distance — took a back seat, the farmers said they were not scared of the coronavirus in the face of the threat to their livelihood. “One, it didn’t happen to us for the last two months when we were protesting in Punjab, why would it happen to us now [COVID-19]? Second, our bodies are immune to all diseases because of the way we are brought up. Thirdly, if these laws are not revoked, we will anyway die because we will be exploited at the hands of corporates,” said Raghuveer Singh, 50, associated with Bharti Kisan Krantikari Sangh from Moga in Punjab.
At the border, a group of young girls from different universities and student bodies in Punjab and Haryana have also joined the movement, and they sing revolutionary songs. Arpan, 29, a member of a student body called Bekhauf Azadi, said that their songs depicted the plight of farmers. “These laws affect our families and indirectly affect us… our education,” she said.
“My parents haven’t come here and I have come with my group. My parents support me in coming here for the cause because they are also farmers,” said Jaspreer Kaur, 28, a PhD scholar from Punjab University.
At this, one of the two border points where farmers have gathered (the other being the Tikri border), Hardev Singh Babbar, 40, a farmer from Mohali, ensured no one crossed over or tried to create a nuisance where the police had installed barricades. “They [the police] are there, we are here. Both sides don’t interfere with each other. Everything is peaceful,” he said.