“Gal kisaan di aa… te asi sare kisaanan de naal aan… politics side te rakh ke desh de anndata de hak ch haan da naara zarur maaro ghato ghatt (This is about farmers and all of us are with farmers. Keeping politics aside, we should all stand in support of country’s food providers)”. Actor and singer Diljit Dosanjh made no bones about his support for the agitating farmers in a tweet when the three farm sector Bills were tabled in Parliament.
His is not a lone voice in support of farmers. As the clamour against the Bills, which provoked the resignation of Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Badal from the Union Cabinet, is growing, the robust artiste community of Punjab is also rallying in favour of farmers.
The fact that Dosanjh was trolled by netizens who asked him to read the ordinances properly before commenting on the Bill did not stop others from joining in the pro-farmer chorus. Actor and singer Harbhajan Maan wrote Punjabi couplets on his Facebook page showing allegiance to farmers with the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ while Pollywood actor Guggu Gill recorded a video message in which he said, “I belong to a farming family and hence I stand tall with all farmers at the moment. I appeal to the Government to withdraw these anti-farmer Bills”.
Singer Babbu Maan shared pictures of protesting farmers. He also expressed his support for farmers in Punjabi as well as in Hindi. His message reads: “Even after 40 years, farmers have not been able to get a hike in crop prices.” Another Punjabi singer Harjit Harman decided to show his solidarity by taking part in farmers’ dharna at Patiala’s PUDA ground. He said, “I protest against this black law and I condemn farmers Bills in strong words. ”
Lok Sabha has already cleared the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, which seek to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agricultural produce. These will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
Black and white paintings of Gurpreet Singh, a social activist and painter from Bathinda, highlights how the three legislations will crush the farmers in future. He had also made paintings on migrants’ movement during the lockdown. “I am a social activist, I use paint and brush to highlight the social issues,” Gurpreet said.
Actor Yograj Singh, father of former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh, threw his weight behind the farmers in a TV debate.
Sahitya Akademi award winner novelist Baldev Singh Sadaknama, 78, who has authored books such as `Annadata’ and `Khaak Jed na Koi’ highlighting the farmers’ distress and suggesting futuristic model of farming, said he was saddened at the plight of the farmers. “I am sad that farmers of Punjab and Haryana are on the roads amidst this pandemic. We cannot model our Bills after Canada or other foreign countries. Our requirements are different. I feel that even small shopkeepers should support farmers as they are also interlinked to farming. If small farmers are affected, they too will feel the heat,”Sadaknama told the Sunday Express.
Punjabi poet Gurbhajan Gill, former president of Punjabi Sahit Akademi, said, “All political parties who were against these ordinances should have started protesting from June itself. Now the Bills have already been passed in Lok Sabha. We have already had bitter experiences with corporates, which came to Punjab promising food processing industries and later betrayed the farmers. This agriculture marketing system has been developed over the past 70 years, changing it overnight will have a cascading effect. This can also cause a law and order problem in the country.”
Lok Kala Manch, a theatre group of Punjab, is showing movies such as ‘Siri’ and ‘Chamm’ to villagers these days. “Chamm has already been shown in over 100 villages. Now we are showing Siri, which highlights the plight of farm labourers,” said Surinder Sharma, producer of the movie. He also plays the lead in the movie.
Popular singers Manmohan Waris and Kamal Heer had, in fact, started a campaign a month ago when they came up with a Punjabi song lodging their protest against ordinances. The song `Acche Dina ne Punjab di kisani dob ti’ is a hit with the protesting farmers.
Farmers and their leaders are understandably grateful to the artiste community.
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of BKU (Lakhowal) said, “We thank all the artistes who have come in support of farmers. Most of them have been farmers and empathise with our struggle. I am glad that they are still connected to their roots.”
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