By Vishal Gulati
New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) With slogans of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ on lips, hundreds of the protesting farmers, both men and women, with grit, determination and revolutionary thoughts of Shahid-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, have gathered along borders of the national capital for a planned protest against new farm laws with the commitment and spirit of volunteering.
Men wearing t-shirts with photos of Bhagat Singh on them and women donning yellow ‘dupattas’ on their heads that represent the colour of martyrs, the protesters largely from Punjab have been hogging the limelight.
“We are the backbone of the country. But it is really sad that how these security people are treating us like an enemy,” said protester Rajdeep Kaur, daughter of a farmer from Punjab’s Sangrur district, while pointing towards a police contingent.
Like Kaur, a sea of protesters inspired by the thoughts of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, are shouting slogans ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ at the protest site.
Even many of them were seen carrying a photo of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
“We travelled from Amritsar peacefully. As we reached the Haryana border, we had major scuffles with Haryana Police at several points,” said farmer Gurdev Singh, who belonged to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta- Dakaunda faction.
He said the revolutionary spirit of the farmers has emerged victorious. “We managed to cross all hurdles despite the heavy deployment of men and the use of water cannons and tear gas.”
Echoed another farmer Jarnail Singh, “Even my single hand is enough to shake the Modi regime that doesn’t care about the farmers. Yeh inquilab hai (This is a revolution).”
Holding a yellow flag, Jarnail Singh, who lost his hand in his childhood after sticking it into a combine harvester, was shouting, “Ekta Zindabaad”.
“Age doesn’t matter but your passion does,” remarked octogenarian Nachattar Kaur who reached here after travelling two days on a tractor-trailer from a village in Gurdaspur district along with his eight-year-old great-grandson, who was holding a flag.
Ruldu Singh, a leader of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), the largest among the 31 farm organisations in Punjab, said they have hundreds of volunteers who have been pursuing the ideology of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.
“The young ones have been assigned duties to regulate traffic peacefully while the convoy was on its way from the Khanauri border (in Sangrur district) to Delhi. Without violence they breached the massive blockades comprising huge boulders, barbed fence and mounds of earth on the Bathinda-Dabwali road to enter Haryana,” he said.
“Their duty was to ensure safety of tractor-trailers loaded with people, ration, eatables, medicines, beddings and water,” he said.
Another batch of women volunteers, a majority of them donning yellow ‘dupattas’, have been assigned duties to run ‘langars’ or community kitchens en route and at the camping sites.
He said the ‘langars’ are not for the protesting farmers but open for all people, including the security personnel and stranded truckers.
The farmers believe the free food is important to help sustain the protest movement for long. The dry foodstuff they have gathered is enough to last three-four months because they know not when their protests will bear fruits.
Weeks ahead of the starting their ‘Delhi Chalo’ journey, every day tens of thousands of people, largely womenfolk and children, were collecting essentials, largely woollens, wheat flour, rice, lentils and other beans, from village to village in the state.
Several artists, singers, ex-servicemen, trader organisations, commission agents and youth clubs had joined the campaign to mobilise people to launch the biggest offensive against the agriculture laws.
Expressing solidarity with the farmers for the police ‘brutality’ against them, Ruby Sahota, Member of Parliament for Brampton North, Canada, tweeted: “The determination and resilience of the farmers is admirable.
“In a free and just society one should be able to advocate for their cause without the threat of force being used against them. The brutality being faced by Indian farmers in these images is deplorable.”
Parliament Secretary of British Columbia, Rachna Singh said, “I am really saddened by the way Punjab farmers are being treated. This is unacceptable.”
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Vishal Gulati