Sandeep Singh: Bharat Bandh Proves That Farmers' Protest Is Still Strong
"The spirit is the same and we won’t stop protesting until the government repeals the farm laws."
September 28, 2021 | 3.5 min. read | Original Reporting
With overwhelming support, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s call for a country-wide strike - referred to as Bharat Bandh - to mark the one-year anniversary of the three farm laws passing was a success.
Punjab and Haryana completely shut down, while other states had varying degrees of involvement, including the Jat and Muslim-dominated Western UP. The biggest challenge facing farm union leaders continues to be spreading the protest beyond these strongholds.
Punjab, where the Farmers’ Protest first started in earnest, witnessed considerable excitement. Some went to Singhu and Tikri Border, as others demonstrated in Punjabi urban centres. Those who could not get to cities blocked village roads instead.
Baaz spoke with five different demonstrators, from all corners of Punjab and Haryana, that participated in Bharat Bandh.
25-year-old Avneet Singh from Mohali has played a critical role in spreading and maintaining the movement in the area and participated in two Kisan Mahapanchayats in the district.
On Monday, Avneet Singh and his friends blocked road traffic in Phase 3-5.
“We have been supporting our farmers from November 26, 2020, and it has been 10 months now. No one is a farmer in our family, but still, as they say, ‘Zameen ni hegi but zameer ta hegi ae’!
What we believe is these laws will affect the middle class the most because of the Essential Commodities Act, which removes restrictions on the stocking of certain commodities. So these laws need to be repealed and we won’t stop protesting until these laws are repealed.”
Farmers blocked the Moga-Ludhaian road as well as a road from Nanaksar to Jagraon, which falls in the Ludhiana district.
A convoy of bikes, cars, and tractors from Kaunke Kalan village of Jagraon went to protest on the highway. Thousands of farmers from different villages joined them as well. On one side of the road farmers put up tents, while on the other side they had parked their vehicles.
20-Year-Old Manjinder Singh is an IELTS aspirant and wants to move to Canada. He was present at the road sit-in and blockade. Manjinder shares that his villagers prepared for the Bharat Bandh with the same zeal as they had prepared on day one of the protests 10 months ago.
“It has been a year since farmers started protesting, but we have not got tired. The Spirit is the same and we won’t stop protesting until the government repeals the farm laws.”
Manjinder Singh and others took water bottles from the village to distribute to protesting farmers, and the women also cooked food for demonstrators in the village Gurdwara.
26-year-old Gurkeerat Singh runs a restaurant in Punjab’s Bathinda and is not dependent on farming for livelihood. Regardless, he has been supporting the Farmers’ Protest from the beginning.
“We had closed down our restaurant for a whole day in support of farmers even though the protest was only from 8 AM to 4 PM. We thought that even though we could not go to Delhi we should at least participate in our city’s local protest. Despite hot weather, the farmers were sitting on the road and they had blocked all the roads of Bathinda.”
24-year-old Ashish Sherawat participated in Bharat Bandh by blocking roads in Hisar. He works as a security guard and he plans to leave the job so that he can participate in the protest.
“Majority of shops were closed. For those that were not closed, we convinced their owners to shutter the shops.”
He claimed that some fertilizer sellers did not agree to close their shops so he is angry. People who did not cooperate with farmers on Bharat Bandh should be boycotted by the farming community, he suggests.
20-year-old Sanjat Thatai is pursuing a B.Com from Delhi University and working towards his Chartered Accountancy at the same time. He joined his friends in observing Bharat Bandh.
“There were more people in Jalalabad this time, when compared to the last Bharat Bandh, taking part in the protest against the farm bills. Not only were farmers protesting but people from different employees unions were also participating. It seems that bad government policies have brought all the people together.”
Thatai claims that the Farmers’ Protest has ignited his interest in arts, books, history, and literature. He went to say that before the protest, there was no union in his village but he and one of his friends convinced elders to form a farm union and to participate in the protest in Delhi.
Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. He spends most of his time at the Singhu border protest site. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab
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