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Friday, January 22, 2021

Teachers, doctors, engineers join protest: ‘We have one thing in common, we’re farmers first’

The teachers, who are part of the Elementary Teachers’ Union, Punjab, said they have not come to teach or educate anyone, but simply to stand behind the farmers in their fight.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi | December 14, 2020 2:45:06 am
Hundreds of teachers from Patiala, Sangrur, Mohali and Amritsar reached the border over the weekend. (Express photo by Ashna Butani)

Several teachers, lawyers and engineers joined the farmers at Singhu border over the weekend, adding to the growing numbers at the protest site. From different districts in Punjab and Haryana, they had one thing in common — they said they are all farmers first.

Arriving at the site in four tempos at 11.30 am on Sunday was a group of 50 engineers from five districts in Punjab. Said Kulwant Singh Gill (56), a civil engineer from Ludhiana, “We have taken a holiday on Monday. We will stop working, if needed. But we are all sons of farmers, even those of us who are not, are here in solidarity.” He said his wife and two children, who live in Canada, will be participating in a rally in solidarity with farmers in Toronto.

Manjinder Singh, chairman of the Council of Diploma Engineers, Punjab, added, “We all have one thing in common — we are farmers first. After that, we studied and went into different professions. That is why we collectively decided to leave for the protests.”

Simultaneously, hundreds of teachers from Punjab’s Patiala, Sangrur, Mohali and Amritsar reached the spot in a bus, two trolleys and other private vehicles on Saturday and Sunday.

Gurmeet Singh (45), who teaches mathematics to students of classes IX-XII in a school in Gurdaspur, reached the border Saturday morning with five others from his district. He said, “I have been going to school every day as students from senior classes are attending classes. Hence, I will stay till Sunday evening and go back in time for school on Monday. I plan on coming here next week as well.”

The teachers, who are part of the Elementary Teachers’ Union, Punjab, said they have not come to teach or educate anyone, but simply to stand behind the farmers in their fight.

Carrying his laptop, Amreetpal Singh (45), a government school teacher from Tarn Taran, took leave from work to join his parents at the protest site. “My parents didn’t want me to come because of the crowd and they fear that I will lose my job if I protest. But I didn’t want to stay in Punjab while they are struggling here. I also don’t want my students to suffer…,” he said, adding that he uses the laptop as a board and his phone to teach from 9 am to 12 pm every day.

A group of 250 lawyers from Haryana’s Kurukshetra, Panipat, Rohtak, Karnal and Panchkula districts also arrived in a bus and a few private vehicles. Advocate Dilwar Singh (29) said his uncle and brother have been at the protest since it started, and his family grows wheat, potato, peas. He said, “We will keep coming here to support the movement.”

Meanwhile, at the Ghazipur site, five youngsters, who said they are students, were turned away by farmers Sunday. The students — four women and a man — tried to enter the site from underneath the Delhi-Meerut Expressway where there are barricades. Narendra Choudhary, a farmer from the Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Ghaziabad chapter, said, “A few of us farmers and police stopped them from entering. We have no issues if they want to come as farmers…”

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