Tears of joy, colour, festive spirit at protest sites

A. M. Jigeesh | | | Updated on: Nov 19, 2021
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Amidst the victory celebrations, farmers remember the lives lost over one year

They were resolute and ready for “as long as it takes”. But the suddenness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement repealing “ kaale kanoon (black laws)” on Friday morning took the farmers at protest sites on Delhi’s borders by surprise.

Remembering the ‘martyrs’

However, mixed with the joy at the news was also sadness and anger at lives lost during the year-long protest. According to the farmers’ umbrella body, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), 636 farmers have died since they assembled for the protest. The families of most who have died are still at the protest sites.

Ravinder Kaur, daughter-in-law of Kahan Singh from Barnala who died during the protest, told BusinessLine that she is proud of the “martyrdom” of her family that has resulted in the repeal of the laws. Gurdeep Singh from Bhatinda had tears in his eyes as he talked about his father Ajaib Singh, who died during the protest. “My father would have been so happy today,” he said.

At a ground near a bus-stand in Tikri between Delhi and Haryana where they assemble every day, the air was emotion-charged. As speeches rent the air, those listening held hands and hugged one another. People from neighbouring villages who had helped the protestors build their encampments and dwelling units also started gathering in large numbers as the news of the “victory” spread.

“Without the support of the local people here, it would have been difficult for us to survive here. We have weathered extreme heat, cold, rain and the pandemic with resolve and goodwill,” said Sukhjinder Singh, an 80-year-old farmer from Bhatinda. Women farmers also joined in groups to shout slogans and sing songs of their “victory”. The word is that the protest may be withdrawn by the month-end and some have started considering dismantling the temporary constructions and trolleys they have set up in the borders.

In Tikri, farmers occupy both the sides of the roads along 15 km.

They have dug bore-wells and constructed temporary toilets on both the sides of the National Highway 9.

Tikri, unlike the Singhu border, which is all colour and festive spirit, is austere and more radical. While participants at Singhu border organise regular “Shabad (recitations of the Sikh holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib )” as also popular music shows, it is ideological discourses and addresses on secularism, democracy, corporatisation of agriculture, et al , at the Tikri border. It is also much more disciplined and better organised site.

Young BKU coordinator Pavel Kussa is already thinking about how to progress towards a law to ensure MSP and withdrawing the draft amendments to the Electricity Act. “The MSP is directly linked to procurement and public distribution systems. These three farm laws are new, but the demand for statutory MSP is old and the protests for achieving this will continue,” said Kussa.

Published on November 20, 2021

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