Farm protests: Farmers at Singhu prepare for first anniversary
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the farmer’s protest, Singhu border appears as vibrant as it was when the farmers first arrived at the Delhi border. The sale of flags, badges and t-shirts bearing popular slogans such as ‘I Love Farmers’, ‘No Farmers, No Food’ and ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad’ has shot up in the last 48 hours, with tractors carrying farmers from villages in Punjab reaching Delhi to mark the occasion.
Farmers said there will be special langar (community meals) services and music on Friday to thank all those who stayed put to make their movement against the three farm laws successful.
Thousands of farmers rallied to the borders of Delhi last November to protest against three laws brought by the centre that sought to deregulate farm trade. Though the protests continued at several border points, Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur emerged as the ground zero of the agitation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 19 announced that the government will repeal the three farm laws, even as the protesters described it as a “half victory”, and said that they will continue their movement until all of their demands are met.
After the Centre’s announcement, and with the first anniversary of the protests approaching, there has been a festive atmosphere at Singhu.
Till last week, only a handful of flags could be seen adorning the protest site at Singhu, but now there is a new-found enthusiasm even among the local residents, several protesters at the site said on Thursday.
“Badges in particulars are finding a lot of takers once again. I have sold over 500 badges since Thursday morning and anyone reaching here from Punjab and Haryana wants to join the celebrations,” said Sehendar Pal, who hails from Uttar Pradesh and has been selling these items at Singhu for the past one year.
On Thursday too, hundreds of farmers could be seen reaching the Singhu border, mostly on tractors with Punjabi songs being played on attached speakers. Parvinder Singh, a farmer from Hoshiarpur, who reached the border on Thursday, said most of the people in his village have either reached Delhi, or are planning to come. “Only a handful of people may stay back. While we would go back home in batches, everyone wants to come here for the November 26 anniversary,” he said.
Till Thursday evening, the Prabandhak Committee members were planning how the anniversary celebrations will unravel, stating that the Samyukt Kisan Morcha will take a final call. “This will be an occasion to thank all those who stayed behind and helped make this movement so successful. It will also be the occasion to commemorate all the lives that were lost,” said committee member Bhajan Singh, adding that they were still contemplating whether to cut a cake to celebrate the occasion or not.
Popular Punjabi singer Babbu Mann will perform on the main stage on Friday. “We are giving five minutes to everyone (those who will come to affirm their support), including him. He can perform a song, or spend his time talking about the movement and thanking the farmers,” Bhajan Singh added.
Closer towards the stage, a blood donation camp was opened on Thursday, and will go on till Friday, the farmers said. “We have been periodically setting up camps, as those visiting have been keen on donating blood. We were called to set up a camp for the occasion,” says Sumit Kumar from the Divine Charitable Blood Centre in Faridabad.
Langar services are also being prepared. Seasonal vegetables such as saag (green leafy vegetables) were on the menu for Friday, the organisers said.
Hardyal Singh, part of the Guru Nanak Langar sewa, said the numbers at the border have increased considerably over the past one week. “We will be preparing kheer and seasonal vegetables. We will be satisfied to serve everyone who wants to enjoy the langar tomorrow,” he said.