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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Farmers line up activities as protest at Singhu border touches 100 days

Women who reached the protest site prepared for the two upcoming programmes. They said around 700 tractors with women are expected from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan in the next two days.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: March 6, 2021 9:24:34 am
KMP Expressway, farmers protest, farm laws, farm bills, man cycling reaches protest, indian express, delhi news(Express photo by Amit Mehra)

From a ‘chakka jam’ on KMP Expressway to mark 100 days of the farmers’ protest to celebrating International Women’s Day — Singhu border was abuzz with activity Friday as protesters geared up for programmes planned for the next few days. For 55-year-old protester Dr Hardeep Singh, however, there was another reason to celebrate — as the protest completes 100 days on March 6, so too will he.

Singh, who has been at the site since the protest started, said: “It has not been easy… I have seen seasons change, clashes break out, and have been disconnected from my family for weeks. But I have not moved from here because I think about future generations and how the farm laws will impact them.”

His sons are in the UK while his wife is in Amritsar. He talks to his family over the phone every day. While some of his farm land is on lease, the rest is being managed by his wife.

His tent is stocked with necessities ranging from water to medicines: “I have spent the last 99 days tending to the needs of others and will continue doing that. I wake up early and make tea for those who are around. Then people come for toothpaste, toothbrushes or water. I am constantly keeping a watch on the tent and surrounding areas even when people are away.”

The tent also doubles up as a studio for leaders of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee during interviews and press conferences. Singh too is a member of the committee.

While he misses home, he said he will not budge until the laws are repealed: “First, they thought we would leave due to the cold. Then they thought that we would give up and go back during harvest season. But they have failed to calculate how resolute we are.”

For the ‘chakka jam’ on Saturday, older protesters will stay back at the site while younger farmers will block roads.

Krishn Kumar Badeshara (27), a protester from Gehli village in Haryana’s Mahendragarh, said he will drive his tractor to the Expressway tomorrow. “Since there are barricades in the middle of the protest site, I will drive my tractor through Narela road to reach the destination. The government does not bother about the protests. They will pay heed only when roads to Delhi are blocked,” he said.

Satnam Singh Pannu, president of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee Punjab, said, “The ‘jam’ will take place from 11 am to 4 pm. There will be over 100 tractors from Singhu border blocking points on the expressway.”

He added that preparations are also being made to celebrate Women’s Day: “Stages will be handed over to women on March 8. Many women are coming from different states, many have already reached.”

Women who reached the protest site prepared for the two upcoming programmes. They said around 700 tractors with women are expected from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan in the next two days.

Davinder Kaur (40) from Gurdaspur in Punjab said: “On March 8, we will all march from the tail end of the protest site to the stages, on foot. The topics we hope to cover from the stage are atrocities against women and how the government is trying to curtail speech of female activists. We are treating it as a platform to voice women’s concerns.”

She added that the farmers’ protests have pushed a lot of women to come out of their comfort zones and fight for their rights: “Now that we have all come together, we plan to create sangathans (organisations) in each village so that women can come together, discuss their problems and fight for their rights.”

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