Sandeep Singh: Revisiting Heroes Of Delhi Chalo As Farmers’ Protest Marks Six Months
We spoke to three protestors who went viral six months ago during the early days of Delhi Chalo
May 31, 2021 | 3 min. read | Original Reporting
Six months later and the farmers are still camped outside Delhi, fighting for their way of life.
We spoke to three protestors who went viral six months ago during the early days of Delhi Chalo. They have consistently shown extraordinary courage by remaining at Singhu Border since day one.
After getting struck with a tear gas shell, 71-year-old Santokh Singh became the face of the Farmers’ Protest. He appeared on the front pages of national newspapers in India, and on screens around the world, as an example of the police brutality faced by peaceful protestors marching to the national capital.
He has been a steadfast and galvanizing protestor here. From being present at the Kundli Manesar and Palwal Expressway when farmers blocked the road to mark the 100th day of the protest to being at Singhu for the sixth month anniversary.
“I came to Delhi to demand the repeal of the three farm laws and will stay here till the government fulfills our demands. We are neither afraid of the government nor of the police. We did not come here to be afraid but to fight against the government,” he shares with me.
Nothing has fazed him over the course of the movement. Not even the cold winter and now hot summer.
“It’s quite normal for me. I faced no problem in winter. Even now we are living without facing any major challenge.”
Santokh added that he did fall ill once but he was taken care of by volunteers at Jangi Library at Singhu border.
Hailing from a small village in Taran Taran district, Santokh’s sons are farming back in the village while he continues to fight in Delhi.
Out of the many iconic moments captured from the march to Delhi, one stands out in particular. Navdeep Jalbera shot to fame when he jumped atop a Haryana police water cannon on November 25, 2020.
He became popular amongst Punjabis and Harayanvis, and was awarded four Haryana police FIRs as a result. Including an attempt to murder.
“It was not easy for farmers to spend six months on roads but they are fighting for their survival. It has inspired them to stay put here regardless of the harsh winter, the storms, the heavy rain, and now hot summer.”
He does not plan to go anywhere anytime soon.
“We had said clearly from day one that all of us have packed rations for six months. Today we completed six months and have stayed true to our words. Farmers are of the opinion that we will not go back until the government repeals the laws,” he goes on to add, “We don’t have any other option. Even if the protest goes till 2024 we will keep protesting. We only have land and crops, if we lose them then we will be left with nothing. We will either die or go back after winning.”
As for how to win, Jalbera thinks a major call should be made to march towards parliament.
“Farmers have given their 100 percent.”
Ravinder is 22-years-old and hails from the Dalit community of Zirakpur, Punjab. A landless labourer, he has remained at the farmers’ protest over the last six months as well.
When farmers first reached Delhi their path was blocked by dump trucks placed by Delhi police. He cleared one truck and took severe abuse at the hands of the police. His arm was fractured and he had to get stitches on his head.
“We are not farmers but we are dependent on farmers. If they sow something, only then we will be able to feed ourselves. If the government implements the laws and leaves everything to market, then everything will get expensive for consumers.”
He said he will keep protesting as long as the laws remain in place.
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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