Updated: November 20, 2021 8:15:05 am
The flags were flying high, the candles were burning bright and the slogans of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, Inquilab Zindabad, along with rhythmic beats of the dhol reverberated in the air.
There was a new spirit that had enveloped the people at Matka Chowk — the spirit of sweet success — as endless boxes of ladoos were unloaded and distributed to celebrate the repealing of the three farm laws, which was announced on the occasion of Gurpurab on Friday.
The chowk for almost a year has been the nerve centre of farmers’ protest in Chandigarh. Every evening, for months, students, activists, farmers, common people had gathered at the chowk, recording in silence their protest against the three contentious laws. On Friday, these protesters saluted all farmers who had made this day a reality and paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in the course of the protest.
Labh Singh, who has been ‘living’ at the chowk for close to 10 months now, was the hero of the day, as he stood tall, welcoming one and all to the chowk, and making sure no one left without chai and sweets. “This is Nanak Baba’s blessings to us farmers, and we have only the Gurus to thank for this day. I want to thank all those people, who have stood by us, in the rain, sun, cold. Despite so many pressures, odds, and tough times, we did not give up our fight and kept our spirit strong. I will not leave this chowk till the bill is passed in the Parliament and MSP is fixed,” said 82-year-old Labh Singh, fondly called Babaji, who belongs to Landran.
On January 1, a campaign called ‘Har chowk kisan ke saath, har light kisan ke saath’ had started, with rallies being conducted in Sector 17 plaza. Labh Singh was a part of every rally.
“It has been a tough time for farmers, especially the elderly, who, for months have been braving the heat, dust, cold, and rain. Today, we stand tall here with Baba ji, who stood against these laws without any fear,” says Daman Deep, a student of DAV College, who has been coming to the roundabout two times a day to be with Labh Singh.
Sukhbir Singh, an Air Force veteran, was on Friday spotted managing the growing crowd at the chowk, arranging for sweets, candles and also talking to other activists. “Today is a day of double khushi for us, it is Gurpurab and we have also made the government look at us. The government has to justify the losses that have been caused to the farmers. So many young lives have been lost, and so many old people have been killed. Yet, no one came forward to say a word about them or give them a word of support.”
Mandrel Kaur, the area head of a company, who has been attending rallies across Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh, termed November 19 as a day of victory for the common people and farmers, “More than 800 farmers have sacrificed their lives for us. Today, by lighting these candles, we remember them and pay our tributes to them.”
Gurnam Singh Dhillon, who has been here with Baba ji since the beginning, said that at first, they fought the British and now they had to fight their own government.
“We fought for the country’s freedom, and we will live and die to protect this country. Till the new Bill is passed in the Parliament, we will stay here at Matka Chowk. This is Baba Nanak’s blessing and the langar here that we serve is of the sangat. On January 26, we will go to Delhi to honour all those who have been at the borders.”
Punjabi actor Darshan Aulakh described the decision to the blessing of the Guru. “This is a win of the farmers. We have won the battle, not the war. It is win for the people and we must maintain peace and the spirit of the protest and not get into any politics.”
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