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Under Singhu shadow, Tikri protest grows in size too

While the blockade at Singhu border has become the centre of national attention, with major farm union leaders stationed there, the protest at Tikri has grown over the weeks to sprawl over several kilometres of Rohtak road and roads adjacent to it.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2020 9:02:12 am
farmers' protest, farmers protest site, tikri protest, tikri protest site, tikri washroom, farmers protest basic facilities, tikri toilets, indian expressFarmers like Mewa Singh, who are preparing their own food by their tractors, are receiving fresh supplies arriving in truckloads from villages in Haryana.

More than two kilometres from the start of the farmers’ blockade at Delhi’s Tikri border, Mewa Singh sat on Rohtak road in the midst of tightly parked tractors and trolleys, chopping cauliflower and onions. He was in the process of cooking lunch for fellow farmers from his village in Haryana’s Fatehabad district. “We have no shortage of supplies and we will only leave after complete fulfillment of our demands,” he said — a sentiment that has been echoed by innumerable farmers over the past two weeks.

While the blockade at Singhu border has become the centre of national attention, with major farm union leaders stationed there, the protest at Tikri has grown over the weeks to sprawl over several kilometres of Rohtak road and roads adjacent to it. While lacking some of the facilities available at Singhu, including foot massagers and a 15-foot-tall steam boiler, it too has developed into a tightly administered site of mass protest.

Farmers like Mewa Singh, who are preparing their own food by their tractors, are receiving fresh supplies arriving in truckloads from villages in Haryana.

Also Read | Govt open to talks but not to repeal of laws; farmers hold hunger strike

“Every day, trucks and trolleys with supplies from Haryana come and pass by our tractors and we can pick up what we need from them — vegetables, milk, toothpaste, soap, bottled water,” said Gurjand Singh from Punjab’s Bathinda district.

Jogendra Ghasi Ram Nain, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Haryana, said his union is in touch with stakeholders in various districts to transport supplies to Tikri border.

“We are in touch with pradhans of mandis, gurdwaras and people in villages, and those bringing in the supplies have been told they have to go to the very last point of the blockade to reach everyone. Last week, Uklana Mandi sent 25 sacks of sugar and 1,500 litres of milk, along with toiletries like toothpaste and soap. Dhamtan Sahib Gurudwara in Narwana tehsil sent 5,000 litres milk and one truck of cauliflowers. Ujhana village from the same tehsil sent 2,500 litres milk and 2,500 kg of vegetables. I cannot give an estimation of how much supplies come in each day because it keeps flowing in,” he said.

Also Read | Farmers protest: Haryana cops say over 60,000 at borders, situation unsustainable

Close to the stage of the protest, an enclosure has been set up where along with cooked langar, food supplies are also available for farmers to take to cook at their trolleys. On Monday, brinjals, turnips, onions, bathua saag, palak, pumpkin, chillies, coriander, curd, milk packets stored in ice water, salt, bread and spices were lined up for them.

The overall administration of the Tikri site is being supervised by a 10-member committee with representatives from Punjab farmer unions.

“Our work is under the guidance of the larger 30-member committee at Singhu border to ensure that this long struggle is carried out democratically and without violence. Every day, the stage is set up from 11 am to 4 pm. Every person who wants to speak has to submit all information about themselves, and that has to be approved by the committee. No one can speak more than five minutes so that everyone can get a chance to speak for farmers. But we are very clear that there can be no talk of religion and no attempts to talk about one’s political party,” said Pragat Singh, BKU Rajewal state secretary, Punjab.

At the foot of the stage also sit members of the ‘Fund Committee’, who are coordinating donations coming in. From time to time, people walk up to them and make donations — some giving Rs 1,200, some more than Rs 5,000 — and they note down information about them.

Also Read | Delhi BJP gets message from top: Use social media, restart outreach to counter protest

“Every morning at 9, we bring together all the funds from the previous day and distribute them to where they are required. On Sunday, we had received Rs 35,000. Around Rs 20,000 is the amount being required for the daily expenditure and coordination,” said Sukhjinder Singh, a member of the fund committee.

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