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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Among sea of protesters at Singhu, women-only tents offer a safe and private space for many

On Friday, 26-year-old Rupinder Singh and his friends set up 70 waterproof tents in a space cleared up between tractors from Moga, 500 metres from the main stage.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi |
Updated: December 28, 2020 2:24:53 pm
Among sea of protesters at Singhu, women-only tents offer a safe and private space for manyThere are 70 waterproof tents for women. (Photo: Somya Lakhani)

A month ago, 26-year-old Rupinder Singh, a student from Punjab’s Moga, joined the farmers’ protest at Singhu with one intention — to listen, and to solve problems. If an ingredient in a langar was over, he would fetch that; if a protester couldn’t read the newspaper, he would read out the news item aloud; if someone needed hot water to bathe, Singh would help them find a geyser.

So, when he realised that women protesters returned to their villages and towns in Punjab quicker than men due to lack of privacy, Singh knew he had to arrange tents just for them. On Friday, Singh and his friends set up 70 waterproof tents in a space cleared up between tractors from Moga, 500 metres from the main stage.

Singh said, “I did a recce of the area to find the best spot to place the tents, after we raised Rs 1.5 lakh between friends and sought help from an NGO called Jap Ji Foundation. There are tents in three sizes that can accommodate two, three and five people each, and have a layer of razai, and a blanket. These are just for women, and for families that have young children.”

He said that another 50 tents will be placed at the site by Monday. During the recce, Singh said he came across “Bibiyaan da Toilet” set up by Delhi-based BasicShit.org, and decided that proximity to a bathroom was important for the tents.

On Saturday, Manjinder Kaur (47), Tezbir Kaur (42) and their children came to Singhu border after the men of the family returned home after weeks of protesting. “We feel very comfortable and safe here, there is privacy to change clothes too. There’s a bathroom for women less than 50 metres away,” said Manjinder.

By 7 pm, the tents start filling up, and since Friday, Singh has been inundated with calls from women making bookings.

Amritpreet Kaur (27) from Patiala said that she heard about tents for women from a fellow protester on Saturday but was unable to find the number or its location. “It had been a week so I decided that I’d rather just go back and return in a few days. But today, I found the tents for women and have decided to extend my stay.”

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