January 30, 2021 2:43:56 am
The Matka Chowk, one of the prominent ‘sites’ for citizens of the city to voice and demonstrate their support for the farmers protesting against the three farm laws, was out of bounds for the residents on Friday evening. A red board installed on the roundabout warned, ‘Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted’ and another one prohibited people from standing here. But that did not dampen the spirits of about 20 people, who stood near the Rose Garden, who after a brief discussion with the large number of police personnel stationed all around, began to move along the road near the chowk, near Sector 17.
“We are here to support the andolan of our farmers and protest against the violence and oppression the state and the government has subjected them to. This show of strength after the January 26 incident reasserts our faith in farmers, their demands and the spirit of the common people,” said Simran Singh, a lab technician in a government hospital, and also a frontline Covid warrior.
Friday’s protest, say a group of students from Panjab University, will be silent, with black ribbons signifying their feelings. “The Chandigarh Police has been very supportive and we have no intention of creating any hindrance to peace. We have been here daily since January 1, and we belong to no party and are from villages of the UT. We are making charts that will portray our thoughts, philosophies and feelings,” said Sunil Singh, who is doing PhD in Hindi at Panjab University. Slowly and steadily, the crowds began to join the human chain, which began getting longer and stronger, with people from all walks of life, men, women, children, joining the strong voices, with the youth guiding the slogans, distributing water, collecting empty bottles, singing protest songs and raising placards, flags, with young women in the forefront shouting, Sada Haq, Ethe Rakh’.
“This is not the cause of only the farmers, but all of us. If we fall now, we will never be able to get up again. The January 26 incident has strengthened our belief in the cause,” said Harkirat Kaur, a school teacher, who was here with her two children.
The energy was palpable and the enthusiasm infectious, as a writer took some time off to quote Sahir Ludhianvi, ‘Zulm phir zulm hai, badta hai to mit jaata hai, khuun phir khuun hai, tapega to jam jaega.’
“Our sons come from the borders wrapped in the Tricolour, and they are teaching us about its significance. Our bravehearts have fought for the freedom of the country and now we are being called Khalistanis, this is not a fight of Punjab, but people from across the country are supporting this movement. This is a lok leher, and we resolve to fight,” said Balbir Kaur, a retired government teacher, here with her two friends.
Manhar, a businessman, who has organised several medical camps at Singhu and Tikri borders, said he is all set to go back to Tikri with drinking water for the farmers, which is in short supply. “We are not disheartened. The movement will be stronger than before. Social media has shown the truth and we are proud of all those who are here.”
Kirpal Singh, of the Naujawan Kisan Sangh, was busy ensuring that the protest was streamlined and peaceful. “We have been on every roundabout of the city. We have no fear of the movement losing its momentum, for it is based on truth. We are all in high spirits, for this protest will only grow and get stronger.”
Theatre actor and director Samuel John, whose work reflects the lives of the working class, farmers and the marginalised, and who has presented his new play, ‘Sher Aur Gadha’, with the lion, the oppressor and the animals signifying the common people in Sector 17 plaza said, “I feel that what the people in power lack is sensitivity and understanding of the real issues. They have a destructive approach towards their own people and the purpose of my theatre is to sensitise others, be it in bastis of mazdoors or in small villages,” said John, who has been part of protests in the Tricity and Tikri and Singhu borders.
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