At Singhu border on Monday, as the farmers’ protest entered the 19th day, leaders of various organisations observed a day-long fast in solidarity with farmers across the country.
Avtar Singh Mehma, State Press Secretary of Krantikari Kisan Union Punjab, said 33 leaders were part of the hunger strike.
‘A symbolic strike’
“This is a symbolic strike. Farmers are observing the strike at their headquarters in different States and those who live nearby, will be marching towards the Capital on Tuesday,” he said, adding that two minutes of silence was observed on stage over the alleged deaths of over 20 farmers near Delhi borders in the last 18 days.
Farmers also observed the strike in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and other States, Mr. Singh added.
He said the crowd is rising, and trackers and trolleys are being managed at the tail of the protest site. “Whoever joins is being asked to park vehicles by the side and not near the stage so that people have space to move,” he said.
The leaders said there is a gherao planned outside BJP MPs houses sometime this week. “A boycott of Ambani’s and Adani’s products has already been called,” he said, adding that the protest will continue to grow.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police installed another layer of security with steel containers adjoining the cement barricades.
On Thursday, over 20 people from Odisha also joined the protest in solidarity with the farmers.
“We want the government to take back the anti-farm laws. These bills will impact every state because the prices of wheat, rice, and vegetables will also increase. If the government believes that the protest is only restricted to Punjab and Haryana or only north India, we're here to change that perception,” said Amiya Pandav from an organisation Ama Adhikar.
People from all over
Sachin Mohapatra, State President of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasang (Odisha), said more people will arrive in the coming days. “Only one train runs every week, therefore, it takes time. I am one of the 40 people who meet the government officials and these people have come to support me,” he said.
Quintals of wood are stacked every few metres at Singhu border protest site and used for cooking through the day and the bonfire to beat the chill at night. But how does the wood reach the Capital?
Baljinder Singh, resident of a Rauke Kalan village in Punjab, shared how he brought 100 quintals of cut wood from his village to the protest site at the crack of dawn – around 3am on Monday – after a 12-hour truck ride.
Mr. Baljinder received a call from his villagers protesting here regarding the need for wood. “As soon as I got the call, I gathered a few young boys and told them that we need to collect wood. Three trolleys set out for the work,” he said.
Jaswinder Singh – a 19-year-old pursuing industrial training – drove one of the trolleys along the streets of the village and knocked doors requesting donations of wood. “We told them that our brothers here in Delhi are protesting against the government for our rights and they need the wood. People open their hearts and give as much as they can – 5kg or 50kg depending on their means,” he said.
Mr. Baljinder said that when they told a 95-year-old woman in the village why they needed the wood, her eyes welled up and she asked them if she could come along. “But she’s really old. She couldn’t have come,” he said.
After collecting wood, Mr Balwinder and his two friends went to get it cut into pieces, 15 kms away from the village to a town called Nihal Singh Wala.
The wood was then shifted from three trolleys to a truck which could carry 100 quintals.
“We left the village around 3pm on Wednesday and reached here about 3am on Thursday. But finally it’s here and so many people are fed the food cooked traditionally,” Mr. Baljinder said.