Updated: January 24, 2021 8:16:38 am
As Republic Day grows closer, hundreds more have been pouring into the protest site at Singhu every few hours, with tractors and trolleys carrying protesters arriving via the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. This, despite the Centre offering to keep the new farm laws in abeyance for 18 months. Police estimate that over 30,000 protesters are now at the site.
At the entry point of the protest site, Tarlochan Singh (45), who runs a langar, distributed peanuts to tractors coming in on Saturday. “We have not made any special arrangements for those coming in, but we distribute whatever we have available so that they feel welcome. Today, vehicles started pouring early in the morning. Since then, at least a thousand have entered,” he said.
A tractor with four students from Hoshiarpur, all with a farming background, was among the vehicles rolling in on Saturday afternoon. The four said they were representing their families who could not make it to the protest. “We are all studying to go to college in Canada next year. We took a break from our studies to come here, especially for the march on Republic Day,” said Jaskaran Singh (18), adding that they came via Ludhiana and passed Karnal and that the route took 24 hours.
As the protest site was abuzz with new vehicles coming in throughout the day, announcements were made on speakers giving traffic advice to prevent jams.
Karamjeet Singh (50), who reached the site from Amritsar three days ago, said it is a struggle to get parking for one’s vehicle. “Vehicles come in and head straight towards the stage. They park wherever they get space. If not in the front, they go back towards the expressway,” he said.
Karamjeet said he and others from his district had made it a point to be present at the borders for Republic Day. He said the march will be peaceful and that they will follow the route their leaders ask them to take.
While almost all new tractors and trolleys carried ration for the coming days, some carried wood, warm clothes, chairs and raw material to set up tents. Everyone agreed on one thing: that they would not go back until the laws are repealed.
Lakhveer Singh (25) from Moga district, who was driving a tractor-trolley, said this is his fifth visit to the border — he keeps going back and forth to replenish his stock of ration and tend to his fields.
Gaurav Kumar (28) from Yamuna Nagar in Haryana reached the border two days earlier. He said, “Many of our families have not come because someone has to stay home. But on the 26th, they will all be present too.”
He said his wife and two sons will reach the border on January 25.
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