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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Silence speaks: When Chandigarh’s roundabouts become rallying points for protesting farmers

There is no need to say much, as the collective consciousness is hard to miss. There is no stage, no leaders, no slogans, no drama, just the power of the people, united for a cause, standing together for the basics -- land and food.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
January 23, 2021 7:51:29 am
Farmers protests, Farm laws 2020, Farm bills 2020, Singhu border, Tikri border, Chandigarh city news, Indian Express newsThe roundabout here is a site of action, with people using the green areas around to be part of the movement, the banners and placards, and an occasional ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’ saying everything. (Express Photo)

AGE, gender, vocation, religion, caste…are no bar when it comes to stepping out of the comfort zones, physical, mental, ideological and lending support and solidarity to what is emerging as one of the world’s largest, peaceful and democratic protests — the farmers’ agitation at Singhu and Tikri borders.

The protest has found resonance beyond borders, not restricted to villages and rural areas, but also gaining momentum with citizens here in Chandigarh, as roundabouts here emerge as the sites for support. With flags, posters, placards, stickers, people from varied walks of life and backgrounds, stand united, their silence speaking louder than words, and their quiet strength drawing the attention of busy commuters.

There is no need to say much, as the collective consciousness is hard to miss. There is no stage, no leaders, no slogans, no drama, just the power of the people, united for a cause, standing together for the basics — land and food.

“There is no organisation telling us what to do, where to go, what time to meet, it is all through word-of-mouth and simple messages via WhatsApp or Facebook that friends, families, colleagues, children, come together to show that they stand by the farmers, believe in the cause, and are not outsiders. We respect their stand and so here we are, the larger idea being to involve the citizens of the city in the movement,” says Gurvinder Singh, an IT expert from Sector 9, who was with 10 members of his family near the Matka Chowk.

The roundabout here is a site of action, with people using the green areas around to be part of the movement, the banners and placards, and an occasional ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’ saying everything.

“We are here not to cause any obstruction, traffic jam, or inconvenience to anyone. We are also not raising our voice, for we hope our silence will tell the story of the farmers’ plights, their demands, how they are braving the odds and not giving up or giving in. As students, it is our responsibility to contribute to change, and many of us are in touch to make sure that at least four-five of us are on the roundabouts of Sectors 34, 38, 17, 26, 46, at different times of the day. These are visible spaces, with people constantly on the move,” says Priya Singh, a law student, who comes from a farmers’ family.

The flags, stickers, banners, are many times designed at home, with some farmer organisations also giving these to students, with the yellow flags with the words ‘No Farmers, No Food’, ‘We Support the farmers’ seen flying across the city. “The movement has got nothing to do with politics. We all eat food and if we need to survive, we need to save farmers from this injustice,” sums up Manju Jain, a teacher from Panchkula, who is here at the Matka Chowk with her five friends.

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