‘Punjab will Keep the Movement Alive’: The Workforce Behind Protests on Delhi Borders

From supplying food and essential items to sending villagers in rotating batches to the protest sites, the farmers from ...

Charanjeet Kaur, 40, is preparing to visit Delhi’s Tikri border from Wara Bhaika village in Punjab’s Faridkot district for the third time next week. This time, Kaur and her husband, Devinder Singh, along with few neighbourhood men and women will visit the agitation site with milk, flour and vegetables.

“Milk is something that finishes quickly, considering that Punjab is very fond of Lassi (buttermilk) and chai (tea). They would skip a meal but never a glass of Lassi,” Kaur laughs while giving the reporter a cup of tea.

Last time, when Kaur visited Delhi borders in January with her 13 year-old son, she carried 60 litres of milk and wood. Kaur says, “Every time a group leaves for Delhi, villagers contribute for essentials as per the requirement, including milk, vegetables, flour, and rice.”

“Each household contributes in whatever capacity they can, and they do that willingly as they all are against these farm laws,” she adds.

Kaur’s entire family, including her 17-year-old daughter, 13-year-old son, and her aged father-in-law, have visited Delhi borders in different batches in support of the ongoing farmers protest against the three contentious farm laws...

...Kaur says that to maintain the movement at the Delhi borders, entire Punjab is at work. “We keep supplying them with essentials, so they are never short of anything. Punjab is making sure that the agitation survives at the borders,” she says.

NewsClick met Kaur around 4.4 kilometres from her village on Bathinda-Amritsar highway at Jeeda toll plaza, where she has joined hundred other farmers – male and female, old and young – to block the plaza in protest against the “Kaale Kanoon” (black laws).

Kaur is joined by Karamjeet Dhillon, a woman in her late 60s, who has recently returned from Tikri border. Dhillon regularly visits the toll plaza protest site and encourages other women to drop household chores to join the vigil daily.

Dhillon says that for every ten who return, double farmers—men and women-- are leaving from Punjab. “Here everyone is related to farming in one way or other. So even if it takes two years till the Modi government falls, Punjab is capable of keeping the movement alive at the borders.”...

...At Jeeda toll plaza which NewsClick visited, the protesters have blocked the toll plaza preventing the collection of toll from commuters. However, they were letting vehicles pass without any payment at the plazas.

“See, the traffic is moving. Our intention is to affect the income of these plazas not the ordinary people,” said Hardev Singh, aged 70, one of the protesters and member of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) while pointing at the vehicles passing from the last two lanes of the Plaza...

...Kaur’s husband, Devinder Singh, also known as Mohan, has been associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) for last 16 years and now heads the union in his village, Wara Bhaika. He says that union leaders have become more vigilant.

“Committees formed in villages are registering contact of each and every individual leaving from Punjab to Delhi. Nobody is allowed to leave without letting the committees know. They are contacted regularly till they reach Delhi and come back. We cannot depend on the government, so we have taken the task onto ourselves,” Singh says.

Singh’s wife Kaur, who is preparing for her next visit to Tikri border, says that Punjab has laboured hard to keep the movement alive and it will do so in the future too. “Even if it takes ten years, we will stay here. We won’t move until farm laws are repealed.”...

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