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150 km from Singhu, help pours in from Kurukshetra

At Padlu village in Kurukshetra's Shahabad block, for instance, farmers have a "relay system" — with batches of 50 farmers going to the capital at a time. They stay at the protest site for three days and return to the village for the next batch of 50 to take over.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | Kurukshetra | December 8, 2020 3:35:33 am
150 km from Singhu, help pours in from KurukshetraWomen prepare food for farmers at Shahabad. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

More than 150 km from the Delhi-Haryana border at Singhu where thousands of farmers are protesting, a gurdwara and volunteers from across villages in Kurukshetra are working round the clock to sustain them.

At Padlu village in Kurukshetra’s Shahabad block, for instance, farmers have a “relay system” — with batches of 50 farmers going to the capital at a time. They stay at the protest site for three days and return to the village for the next batch of 50 to take over. Dakala village, with a smaller population of around 1,000, sends 25-30 at a time.

“The aim is that there always be enough people to sustain the pressure while everyone is also able to carry out their responsibilities in their farms and homes,” said Kulwinder Singh from Dakala.

Those not at Delhi’s borders at a given time contribute with their material resources. “Our local gurdwara announces on a loudspeaker that such and such thing is currently required and we go and give according to our means there.

Once everyone’s contribution is collected, a vehicle carries it all to the dera kar sewa in Shahabad. We have given food supplies, fresh blankets, toothbrushes, medicines, hand sanitisers and odomos,” said Gurdeep Singh from Padlu, who said his last contribution was 40 kg of atta on Saturday.

Every morning, a vehicle leaves the Shahabad branch of Dera Baba Jagtar Singh to pick up around 20-25 women volunteers from the villages according to the day’s roster. These women work from 8 am to 5-6 pm to prepare food and organise the ration arriving from the villages.

On Monday, it was turn for the women of Salpani village to perform what they refer to as sewa. “We do the cleaning here, cut the vegetables, prepare the food, and organise raw material. We come when it’s our turn since we are all part of the movement. My father was also at Singhu border for a week and has returned now,” said 19-year-old Mehekpreet Kaur, a B.Sc final-year student.

While another group of women will arrive to continue preparations through the night, women from their neighbouring village Ajrana will take over the next day.

Every day, multiple trucks leave the rasoi. Baba Gurmeet Singh, spiritual head and in-charge of the branch, said he is unable to keep count of the quantity of supplies which leave the gurdwara each day.

“We don’t have an estimate as we don’t know how many people we are serving at the borders; the numbers grow every day and many people other than farmers come to the sites as well. 5,000, 10,000, 20,000? We don’t know, and we send our trucks to Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders… In the beginning, we were sending out many more trucks of cooked food, but since it’s a long journey we also put up cooking set-ups and sent volunteers there and are now focusing on sending raw material for cooking and other essentials,” he said.

Three trucks of cooked food head towards the capital from there every day — at around 4 am, 9 am, and 4 pm. Puran Chand, a social worker, estimates that each truck carries around seven quintals of food. “Including those carrying dry ration and other supplies, nearly 10 trucks leave every day. On Sunday, we had also sent a truckful of mattresses,” he said.

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