The Bengaluru couple who is volunteering at the farmers’ protest in Delhi

Ravneet Kaur and Manjot Singh who are volunteering at the Ghazipur border   | Photo Credit: Sunalini Mathew

It’s early evening at the Ghazipur border’s protest site, and the wood fires have just begun to be lit. An elderly man walks up to Manjot Singh, 30, and asks him when the movie screening will begin at Sanjhi Sath (loosely translated to ‘our meeting place’).

Manjot assures him he will have it up soon. The space, a 60x20 foot tent is where leisure time activities are organised: movies, discussions, even a time to paint, with the plan to begin yoga and meditation. People can volunteer to give lessons too.

Manjot and his wife, Ravneet, 29, are both Bangaloreans, and are a part of various organising committees here. “Some we are in charge of, and some we are members of,” he says, of their combined roles leading the Sanjhi Sath, of his wife’s of looking after the women’s needs. He’s a part of the IT committee, running the free wifi for students and the group’s social media handle @kisanektamorchaghazipur on Instagram.

The couple, now married for eight years, lives in Jayanagar in Bengaluru, Manjot working as a technical consultant for firms across the world, Ravneet in her second year of Law Studies. “We were following the protest from the beginning, but that didn’t satisfy us,” says Manjot, as he picks up pakoras and distributes them down the line to people. For Ravneet it is the additional push of being a law student. The couple is originally from Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand.

Here, they stay at the Radisson nearby, “because we often need wifi to work.” Manjot sometimes needs to take international calls and he laughs about how he does so to a background of slogan shouting, while Ravneet attends classes online or reads her books while sitting at the store catering to women’s needs.

It has been 28 days now, and the couple who came for just three days to begin with, says they keep extending their stay by a few days at a time. “We wait for a meeting to happen, and when that is inconclusive, we postpone our departure,” she says.

At home, they live an ordered life, sleeping at 10 pm, waking early to exercise and then begin work. Here, they are at the site sometimes as late as 3 am, and there is no fixed work. “We may be needed to clean the dal, or sweep. Sometimes a bus load of people will arrive and we need to arrange tents and mattresses.” he says.

What they have gained are new relationships. “We have had people come up to us and introduce themselves as our relatives,” says Ravneet, laughing, as people come up to her, one greeting her, a child hugging her, and someone just wondering when the tea will be ready.

Both agree that the biggest lesson from the protest has been the sense of community. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs living side by side, even chanting each other’s religious sayings, so everyone feels a part of the fold.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:32:46 AM |

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