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Dilli Chalo | A month on, protesting farmers show unflagging resolve

Staying put: Farmers protesting near Ghazipur in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

It was exactly a month ago when scores of farmers reached the borders of Delhi and made it their home. In just 30 days, their resolve seems to have only grown, and going back appears to be a distant dream.

When the farmers parked their trucks and trolleys in the last week of November, they had come with sacks of wheat, rice, flour and vegetables. Now, the trucks also have toothpaste, kneecaps, blankets, and desi geysers, among many essentials.

 

Amarjeet Singh, a 65-year-old farmer from Fatehgarh Sahib, said that the trolley he travelled in was one of the three that first reached Delhi on the night of November 26.

“We were stopped at Kundli border and late in the night, when all the police officials were sleeping, we pushed an empty bus which was in front of our trolley and sneaked towards the Singhu border,” he said. On November 27, Mr. Amarjeet recalled facing tear gas shells and his eyes burning for hours.

“There was a retired Army man with us. He told us to soak sacks in water and cover the tear gas shells as soon as they drop,” he said.

 

A trend that has set in in the past four weeks is that the elderly of the village have stayed back, while the youngsters make trips to their homes and back.

Mr. Amarjeet had come with ten people in his trolley, including his sons and brother, but only three of them are now in Delhi — new people from the village, however, have joined the protest. “They have gone back because someone has to take care of the crops too. This is the time to water the fields and fertilize the land,” he said. Avtar Singh from Mohali also said that 22 people had come with him, and 12 of them have stayed permanently.

After his friend and protester Harphool Singh’s death on Thursday, Mr. Amarjeet’s family is worried for his health, but he has decided to stay till the end. Mr. Harphool fell sick here at the border and was taken home on December 21, but he died of the illness three days later, Mr. Amarjeet said.

 

More hands

“The strength of the protest has increased in the past few weeks because now it is not just about Punjab and Haryana, so many other States have joined in — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,” said Harminder Singh from Bhatinda.

“Earlier, we had come prepared for six months of food, but now, ration is flowing in. We haven’t even used the sacks of flour and rice we had got,” Avtar Singh said.

Mr. Harminder also mentioned that wood worth ₹4 lakh has been collected in their village in Bhatinda but it’s not being brought here because “it’s not required”.

“They question where the money and all the other things are coming from. The answer is that people back home are giving donations for the cause. If one family is giving ₹1,000 each, about ₹4-5 lakhs are collected. And only 20-25 people from one village are here. Can one village not take care of 25 people?” he said.

 

All day, some of the elderly are also on duty taking care of their tractors and trolleys while the youngsters spend time at the site. Sucha Singh, 75, says that he wakes up at 4 a.m., bathes, prays, and then spends time around the stage for a few hours, after which he goes back to take care of the trolley.

A month later now, there are also a few people who are not missing home anymore. “We’ve met so many people here who’ve become family. We also spend good time strolling here, sometimes, it feels it’s better than home,” said Tarsem Singh from Mohali.

Watch | Why are the farmers protesting?
 

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:59:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/farmers-protest-a-month-on-unflagging-resolve-on-show/article33419709.ece

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