At Singhu border on Saturday, a new truck or trolley kept arriving every few minutes — hundreds of vehicles have been making their way from several Punjab districts, via different routes, so they are not stopped at state borders. By Sunday, over 1,500 vehicles are expected to make their way to the Delhi border.
A trolley ferrying 20 farmers from Tajpur in Ludhiana reached the protest site at 6 am on Saturday. The vehicle left Ludhiana at 9.30 pm and drove all night through the rain.
Amandeep Singh (25), who was among the farmers, said, “Some people have gone back to their village to tend to their farms. So we collectively decided to come to represent the village. If we go back, a number of other trucks will replace us. There are many others from our village who want to join. My father is taking care of the fields; in a few days, he will join and I will head back.”
Amandeep, who grows rice and makki, said they came via Haryana and that there were many others from the state using the same route.
Ranjeet Singh (34) from the Sikh Sewa Force said the number of farmers at the site has gone up tremendously overnight. But there is no dearth of amenities and food, he said, pointing to the toiletries that he and other sewadars have been distributing: “For every one person who goes back to their village, another 10 come to replace them.”
Late Friday, a yellow college bus carrying around 70 farmers reached the border. Amarjeet Singh (50), a farmer and the bus driver, said it was a 10-hour journey from Amritsar, passing through Ludhiana, Karnal and Shahabad. They stopped at a gurdwara in Ludhiana to freshen up.
“Just three days ago, I dropped a few people to Amritsar. They went home as some of them had to tend to their farms, others had weddings in the family. But I have come back with more people than I dropped,” he said. The bus, owned by the Kar Sewa, was given to the farmers since colleges are not open.
At Tikri border, protesting farmers made calls to their friends and family as the Rohtak toll became a free passageway for trucks. Protesters had earlier faced problems while travelling because of heavy police deployment at pickets and steep toll prices outside Punjab.
Nasib Singh (45), a farmer from Rohtak, called his brother and his family to Tikri border. “We will call everyone here unless the government repeals the laws. My wife and children are already here. I also called my younger brother to join us. Now, Punjab and Haryana officials are helping us — we don’t have to pay the toll and our vehicles aren’t stopped,” said Singh, who lives in a joint family of 10. He and his family bought a tent from a nearby shop in Jhajjar and set it up near their truck. The family also donates vegetables for the langar.
Other farmers, who make several trips back home to collect clothes or more ration, are also relieved by the free passageway. Inderjeet Bagga, a farmer from Bhatinda, goes back to Punjab twice in a week to buy vegetables, oil and flour. He shares his tent with eight others. They cook their own meals and go back to their villages when they run out of groceries.
Said Bagga, “Our wives and children take care of the farm while we are protesting here. Groceries available nearby are expensive and we can’t afford them. We have to go to Punjab. We usually spend Rs 100-150 on toll… it’s good they have waived that. We are also planning to call more farmers here. They can come, stay for some time and go back.”
The Delhi Police said more than 10,000 protesters are at Tikri border. At the Singhu border, police said around 17,000 protesters had gathered as of Friday.
Meanwhile, farmers from South Haryana and Rajasthan, who intend to join protesters in Delhi, will be gathering in Rajasthan by Saturday evening and moving towards the capital Sunday morning.
Said Ramzan Chaudhary, head of the Nuh unit of Jai Kisan Andolan, “Protesters from Haryana and Alwar will congregate at the Shahjahanpur border in Rajasthan by tonight. On Sunday, we will join people coming from Kotputli at 10 am and march with them towards Delhi.”