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Sunday, March 07, 2021

Flower petals, jug of water: How tractor march found support from onlookers

As the farmers crossed Anand Vihar bus terminus, a number of travelers waved at them. Once they reached Vivek Vihar, residents showered the tractors with flower petals.

Written by Sakshi Dayal , Ashna Butani , Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: January 27, 2021 1:28:27 am
Farmer's tractor march in the national capital. (Express Photo)

From morning to evening, even as the march took on a more violent form, there was no dearth of onlookers who had come out to see tractors whizzing past one after another. Large numbers of people had gathered to take videos, photos and even selfies. The rally was met with claps and cheers as they went along.

The Ghazipur farmers found support at every step of their route till Apsara border and back. As the tractors zoomed past Ghazipur in the morning, a number of workers from the Ghazipur Mandi left their work to watch the protest. Majority of them were workers from Bihar, who had farming backgrounds.

Vidaynand Kumar Yadav (32), was among those who hoped to join the march as it went ahead. He said, “I am a farmer myself… I have small patches of land where I grow crops every year. But there is no money in farming. That is why I leave my family in the village and come to Ghazipur, where I work in the chicken market. The country is in a bad shape and these farmers are finally fighting for all of us.” He added that he would walk a few kilometres in solidarity with the farmers and then head back to work.

Avdesh Yadav (30), who milks cows at the mandi, said, “I have a farming background in Bihar too. We would like to be a part of the protest as well. But we are bound by our work here.”

As the farmers crossed Anand Vihar bus terminus, a number of travelers waved at them. Once they reached Vivek Vihar, residents showered the tractors with flower petals. Gurmeet Kaur (43) and her 11-year-old daughter from a colony nearby were among the volunteers who threw petals on the moving tractors. Gurmeet said, “We get to see the Republic Day parade every year. I was looking forward to this parade since it was different.”

Not too far away, a group of lawyers held a flyer stating that they are in solidarity with the farmers. Anil Chauhan, a Delhi High Court advocate said, “We are from the All India Lawyers’ Union and we stand with the farmers and think that these three laws should be repealed.” Volunteers from a gurdwara in Vaishali offered langar to farmers on the way.

Near the Tikri border too, residents came out in support of the farmers. As the tractors passed Jharoda Kalan village, Mamta Verma, a resident, stood outside her home along with her husband, 12-year-old son, and three of his friends. All of them held bottles and jugs of water that they offered to protestors who passed by their home.

As she filled her jug from a bucket of drinking water outside her home, Verma said, “We had not actually planned to do this. It just happened that one of the tractors stopped outside our home and the people in it requested us for water. We gave them all water and then decided to do the same for others as well.” She added, “We support the farmers completely, just as farmers cannot live without water, we cannot live without farmers. This was the least we could do to show our support.”

Jitender Kalan, another resident of the village and a transporter by profession, said he and his family had all come out to support the farmers.

Sabho Devi (65), perched on a plastic chair on a pavement, surrounded by four other women of varying ages said, “We are hundred percent with the farmers. These laws should be taken back. Government needs to think of their benefits. They put food on our plate after all. We had heard in the news that the rally will pass through our area so I had planned to welcome them with cheers.”

However, not all those who were taking videos and photos were as appreciative. Vinod Dagar (37), who manages cash in the ATM of a private bank, said, “They are all terrorists, they can’t be farmers. Which farmer will have so much time to leave their home and stay here for so many months?”

Ramkumar (46), an MCD employee, said he only came to see the rally to indulge his two-year-old son who loves tractors. “I don’t support the farmers at all. The government had listened to the farmers and agreed to hold back the laws, but they are being stubborn… I have only come because my son loves tractors, and this is nothing short of a dream for him,” he said, as his son, who he held at his waist, waved to the passing tractors.

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