As the protest at the Singhu border crosses three weeks amid dipping temperatures, farmers have converted their tractors-trolleys into mini-homes — complete with beds, blankets, music system, groceries, water and other essentials.
Raspinder Singh (31), a farmer from Patiala, and 10 of his friends sleep inside a trolley every day. While the platform of the vehicle is covered with mattresses and parali (crop stubble) to keep the space warm, the top is covered with a long yellow tarpaulin.
Singh, who has also put an electrical switchboard on the side to charge phones and light bulbs, said: “This is our home now. We have made all arrangements so we can stay here for long. Khalsa Aid and some other volunteers gave us more blankets. We have fixed a bulb on the top for light; we also have a Bisleri water can.”
The men have also bought mosquito repellent and plastic covers and use at night. Singh and his friends are the only ones from their families who are protesting at Singhu, they said the other members are taking care of the farms back in Patiala.
A kilometre from Singh’s trolley, a group of elderly farmers placed parali on the ground and sat on them as Rajinder (65), a farmer from Fatehgarh Sahib, made tea in a small kettle. His truck functions as a living room and kitchen for more than eight farmers.
The truck is covered from all sides with a blue tarp and has light bulbs inside. On the side of the truck, a small platform is used to keep medicines, cosmetics and a small mirror. “We know this is going to be a long stay. I wake up every morning around 6 and make tea for my friends. We take bath at the nearby factory and then change clothes inside the truck. I also put a mirror so everyone can comb their beard and see how they look,” said Rajinder.
The farmers have put an inverter inside the truck to supply power for their loudspeaker and switchboards, and fixed ropes on one side of the tarp to hang clothes.
While most women farmers stay at the protest site only for a day or two, citing lack of access to clean toilets, a group of elderly women have been sleeping inside their trolleys for the last two weeks. Amarjeet (65), a farmer from Patiala, sleeps in a trolley with five other women. She walks 4 km every day to use a clean washroom and take a bath but has planned to stay and support other farmers.
“We have everything here that we need at our homes. My knees ache because of sleeping inside the vehicle but I won’t leave. We have covered this with a lot of mattresses and my son gives me vegetables,” said Amarjeet. The women place logs outside the trolley to shield the vehicle at night.
They also cook meals for more than 100 people every day — roti, tea, sabzi and pinni — and have brought 4-5 LPG kitchen cylinders with them for the purpose.
The protest site has more than 2,000 tractors and trolleys parked on the road. The tractors are used by the farmers to make announcements and play songs in the evening.
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