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In 2020, the slow murmurs in response to the three farm acts passed by the Parliament were followed by farmers from Punjab and Haryana coming to the streets. The legislation, known colloquially as the Farm Bills, was labelled ‘anti-farmer laws’ by numerous farmer unions and opposition politicians who said they would leave farmers to the mercy of corporates. 

The protests gained momentum and spread across the country, with farmers from other states joining in solidarity. The protesters have faced a heavy-handed response from the government, with police using tear gas, water cannons, and barricades to prevent them from entering Delhi. The protesters were accused of blocking roads and vandalizing public property. In times of dire need, langar seva started at its full pace serving those who stood strong against the impositions. 

On Delhi's border, farmer langars served those in need

The langars not only fed the farmers camping at the border; they also helped several underprivileged people in the area of the blockage, as well as countless homeless people, who would otherwise struggle to get even one square meal a day.

The langars served three square meals every day, as well as tea, fruits, kheer, and sweet rice as prasad (offering), and snacks. The majority of those who benefited from the farmers' generosity were scrap collectors, and the used paper plates and plastic objects from the langars also provide them with daily living without them having to go scouting for discarded stuff.

According to Jasveer Singh, senior pradhan, Bhartiya Kaisan Ekta, who has travelled from Sidhupur, Punjab, many people eat at their langars and some even take food home. “All are welcome and we are here to do sewa (social service). We have trolleys full of rations and vegetables to survive for at least six months. We hold langars several times a day to ensure that no one is left without food,”

Almond langar for farmers on protest

While langar was already a staple of farmers' protests at the Delhi border and locals donated pinnis to keep them healthy, two NRI brothers began providing almond langar for farmers. Over 20 quintals of almonds were despatched from Jalandhar, with more on the way.

The almonds were delivered by the United States by the California-based Tut brothers. Tuts, originally from the village of Paragpur on the outskirts of Jalandhar, are among the largest almond producers in the United States and sent these nuts for free through their close friends. Other philanthropists also delivered dried fruits to the protest site. Cashew nuts and raisins were among the other nutrient-rich langar served to people during the protest. It was indeed the epitome of support with which the community stood up for their fellow brothers and sisters during the protest.  

The four Tut brothers are renowned for their philanthropic endeavours, particularly in the Sikh community. In an interview with TOI,  Ranjit Singh Tut said, “Our friend Jasbir Singh from Tanda in Hoshiarpur district wanted to serve almonds and approached me for providing these at half the price. When I learnt that he wanted to serve these in langar at the farmers’ protest venues, we decided not to charge anything and instead make it our contribution to a cause so important to entire Punjab.”

Five quintals of almonds were shipped through Jasbir in the initial shipment, and more followed. A few additional close friends and relatives also contributed. Ranjit said that he  requested that they offer volunteers serving langar or performing other physical activities with nut packets.

Khalsa Aid distributed free sanitary pads 

Khalsa Aid, an international Organisation whose mission is to give humanitarian assistance in disaster- and conflict-stricken areas, has truly lived true to its name. They have always been there to assist wherever people are suffering in different regions of the world.

Now, when our country is experiencing one of the largest protests of all time, namely the Farmers Revolt, the volunteers of this Charity are assisting their own. At the ongoing farmers' demonstration location in Delhi, the social group provides demonstrators with hygienic goods, including toiletries and free sanitary pads. In addition, portable restrooms for men and women have been built.

Sheltering the fellow community members 

The NGO also provided a temporary shelter home for the farmers who do not have a place to sleep during these cold winters in North India. The shelter provided accommodations for approximately 400 individuals and is continuously monitored by CCTV cameras. The organisation gave the farmers who were protesting beds, complete with mattresses and blankets so that they could sleep without disturbance. In a number of locations, the volunteers were also given free langar, tea, and other refreshments to everyone who is taking part in the demonstration.

Caring for their health and well-being 

The fact that the majority of demonstrators were seniors was taken into consideration by Khalsa Aid. In light of this, they handed out first aid supplies to the demonstrators. Standard bandages, disinfectants, and medications are part of the kit. Volunteers with Khalsa Aid also fogged areas on a regular basis in order to protect protesting farmers from diseases that are spread by mosquitoes. As a precaution against the possibility of a fire breaking out during the demonstration, the organisation also provided fire extinguishers to the participants.

 

*Based on an article by IP Singh, published in TOI on 5th December 2020, and an article by Anvit Srivastava and Kainat Sarfaraz published in Hindustan Times on 7th December 2020

 

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