Manjeet Singh, 42, is a jeweller with a store at the Mansa Gurdwara Chowk. He has no connection with farmers, but he is standing right in front at a protest at Barahatta Chowk in Mansa district. “If farmers will have dwindling incomes and an uncertain future, who will buy jewellery from me? I am linked to the farmer. Today is he, and the ahrtiya. Tomorrow it could be me, or someone else too.”
Kamal Goyal, 37, is the general secretary of the Pesticide Dealers Association in Mansa. “Even if there is contract farming, any private player comes, and pesticide needs will remain in the market. Hence, more or less, my sale will remain. However, I stand with my farmer friend who is my customer from the past many years. It is because of him that I have been able to earn some money and have given a good life to my children,” he says, sitting next to Manjeet.
In Ludhiana, Kuldeep Singh Khaira runs a dairy shop in Ishar Nagar. Khaira says, “I did not sell milk today. I had told my customers yesterday itself and also extended support to farmers on my social media page. My business is directly linked to farmers, hence if a farmer is unhappy, how can I be happy?”
Ishar Nagar’s market stayed closed on Friday. This included a hair dresser’s shop, a sanitary store, a glass house, electronics store, Om Parkash’s cycle repair centre, Manjeet Singh’s wood works shop, Akhilesh’s bag store and many other shops. “Most of the shopkeepers have no link with farmers. All of us live in Ludhiana where urban people have no time to talk about farmers or their issues. However, we decided that we need to stand with farmers. If not now, then when? Our PM needed to see that many farmers are upset, lakhs were on roads today. Hence, he needs to give a second thought to the farm Bills.”
In Barnala’s Shaheed Chowk, Arjun Das Budh Ram electronics store, mobile store, Gupta book depot, Gobind Jewellers and over 100 other shopkeepers had voluntarily shut their shops. Dressed in pant-shirt, they were sitting on dharna on the road near Shaheed Chowk. “These shopkeepers have nothing to do with farmers, they live in cities. A number of them have children settled abroad or in big cities. But still they are with farmers. Isn’t something clear to our worthy Prime Minister?” asked Narian Dutt, a social activist from Barnala. Meanwhile, a banker and a factory owner were also seen extending support to farmers through social media.
The Malwa region observed almost a complete shutdown. In Ludhiana, many markets were closed while factories were operational, a few markets in inner areas were open. Friday’s bandh call was given by 31 farmer associations and they had organised protests at 150 different places, said Dr Darshan Pal, convener of Kisan Sangrash Committee, formed by these 31 associations.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines