A Free Medical Facility for Protesters at Tikri Border

‘People Will Draw Strength From Farmers’ Resolve & Victory’

Dr Sumit Kaur, who was part of a free medical facility for protesters at Tikri border, says farmers’ resolve made Prime Minister Modi see reason

This is such a huge victory for the farmers that the Centre has accepted their demands and announced it will repeal the three controversial Farm Laws. But we are not done yet. Even though this is a milestone in the farmer’s protest, we have a longer road to tread. For, the protest was not only about the Farm Laws being taken back, but also about the need for the government to look into important matters ailing the agricultural sector like MSP guarantee, farmers’ suicide, farm loan waivers etc.

I hope the Prime Minister has finally understood that leadership does not mean imposing arbitrary laws, but taking into consideration all the stakeholders involved. The farmers’ undying spirit, especially those of Sikh farmers, has made Modiji see reason. Hope he understands the importance of dialogue.

Kaur with her teammates who set up a medical langar for protesting farmers

Perhaps others will draw strength from the victory of farmers and will stand beside the issues they believe in. I am feeling overwhelmed and equally proud at this victory. The international support is of no less importance. Support for the farmers poured in from everywhere and no matter what names we were called or whatever was thrown our way, we didn’t give up and we didn’t lose sight of our aim: better life for our farmers.

We braved everything from extreme cold and pollution last year, to fear of catching Covid among large gatherings and crowds, lack of basic amenities and everything else in between. But in the end we did manage to make the current government see reason. Our conviction has paid. Democracy has prevailed.

Perhaps other leaders should take note from Rakesh Tikait on how to lead. Tikait Sahab ne protests me nai jaan phoonk di (Tikait breathed life into the protest). He said that he wouldn’t go home unless the Farm Laws were repealed and he stood by his word. That’s how leaders should be, with one ear always on the ground as to what the janta wants. No doubt farmers from Punjab have been the most vocal during the protests. We always stand by what is right and what is beneficial for everyone involved.

Kaur at the protest site and her makeshift camp

I am currently in Punjab, but I so want to be with my friends at the protest site at the Delhi borders right now. It takes your joy to a whole new level, when you can share it with those who have undertaken the journey with you. Here’s hoping this is the start of a beautiful journey for the agricultural sector. I salute the farmers, the protesters and the independent media alike.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

A Farmer from Amritsar is Camping at Singhu Border

‘Protest And Studies Both Important For My Future’

Jarmanjeet Singh, 21, son of a farmer from Amritsar is camping at Singhu border to protest against the farm bills. When he is not agitating, Singh is attending online classes in computer applications

We have been told by the Union leaders to stay here till the newly inducted farm bills are not repealed. Many of us have been relay protesters, who camp at the protest site for 15 days then head back to tend family and household matters for the next 15 days. This cycle has to be maintained to strike a balance for our present as well as our future.

We are a family of farmers. We have fields at the outskirts of Amritsar. While I regularly work at the farms to help my family, I am also pursuing my post-graduate diploma in computer applications (PGDA). My parents have high hopes for me. They want me to get a good job since farming is no longer a profitable vocation. For this reason, I have brought my study material to Singhu border as 15-day is a long period and I shall not want to miss my online classes.

ALSO READ: ‘Providing Food To Farmer Is Sacred Duty’

I am not a student of economics, but it is easy to understand why the farmers are agitated. It takes months of hard work and patience to grow a crop and we never get the right price for the product. If a person creates a product, he or she has to decide the price of the product in the market; however, this is not the case with the farmers.

Singh brought his study material to the protest site at Singhu border

We produce crops and the adhatiyas decide the price. The government’s promise of minimum selling price (MSP) is rarely followed. And when this system has established well, the government wants to bring in corporates to fix the price.

ALSO READ: ‘This Govt Underestimated Farmers’ Grit’

Very often, the farmer is not even able to extract the input cost of the farm produce. For, it is not in our hands to determine the market price. The demand and price fluctuate at an alarming level and in a bad season, we are unable to meet our basic necessities.

The growth in farming has virtually stopped and that is why my parents don’t want me to take up farming. Therefore, I am trying my best to strike a balance between my studies and the agitation. The agitation is as important as studies for a farmer’s family like ours. One holds our present, another our future.

I am a student and my parents are bearing all of my expenses. If the only source of income to my family is threatened, what shall I do? I will go home in some days and then will return after spending 15 days there. I have no idea how long the agitation will go but I am prepared to stay with my fellow farmers for a long haul.

‘This Govt Underestimated The Grit Of Sikh Farmers’

Gauravdeep Singh, 24, founder of Initiators of Change, a Ludhiana-based NGO, is running medical service camps for protesting farmers at Singhu border with the help of his team and young volunteers

The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent his last years (1521-1539) as a farmer on the banks of River Ravi (now known as the Kartarpur corridor), and therefore Sikhs revere farming as a service to humanity. Farming is the foundation on which all other services are built, which is why I thought it was important for me to come out and help the farming community in these trying times.

So I came here along with my team members at Singhu border to provide basic medical support to the farmers. We are a group of nearly 200 volunteers, divided in about 20 teams spread across both the Singhu and Tikri borders. The volunteers are drawn largely from the NGO I run, Initiators of Change as well as the Gurmat Gian Missionary College which was started by my family. We also have dedicated pharmacists and paramedics working with us.

Young volunteers and pharmacists work in shifts at Singhu and Tikri border protest sites

We have been here from day one of the protests. I believe if we can take care of their physical wellbeing by way of medical support, they will gather more strength to nurture the soul of this country. Tending to the wounds of the farmers who had faced batons, water cannons, rough handling etc was one of the first tasks we had to take up at Delhi borders. We have carried on since.

We provide basic medicines like pain killers, antacids, throat lozenges, pain relief gels, warm bandages etc. In addition, we keep supplies of facemasks, hand sanitizers, sanitary pads with us to encourage hygiene among protesters.

My day starts at 6 am. We visit each trolley in a zone to distribute blankets. There is breakfast at 9 am and thence to the medical camps. Along with medicines we also provide daily-use items like toiletries, books etc. The teams work in shifts, so everyone, including me, gets sufficient rest. The entire supplies, so far, have been managed from our own pockets.

The medical camps provide basic medicines as well as daily-use items

Hum Sikhs kisi se nahi darte, hum sar ko hath pe rakhte hain, humein sirf sacchai pyari hai (A Sikh is not afraid of anything. We hold truth higher than life). The government perhaps underestimated the power of the common man. They removed Shaheen Bagh protesters in the name of coronavirus, but they have to answer the farmer now.

I find the demands of farmers completely valid, which is why I am giving my whole-hearted support to this protest. I was given the National Youth Award in 2017 for creating voting awareness among the youth of Punjab. I decided to return my award for the voters’ will was not given due respect by this government.

ALSO READ: ‘Providing Food To Farmers Is Sacred Duty’

India is majorly an agrarian economy, so shouldn’t farmers be included in the policy making? Should they be conveniently ignored and side-lined as has been done by the Union government? A government is answerable to the public.

One cannot expect the corporates to behave on the basis of goodwill, for they operate on the basis of profitability. Ye jo langar system hai na jisne poori insaniyat ko sath bandh rakha hai, ke duniya me jahan bhi koi bhookha hoga, aur koi Gurudwara hoga, wahan khana zaroor milega, wo bhi khatm ho jayega agar ye farm bills pass ho gaye toh. (These farm laws are anti-thesis of our langar service, which binds humanity by feeding one and all). We can provide medicines to the body, but the government must step forward to heal the wounds that are festering in the hearts of farmers.

Singh (middle) with fellow members of Initiators Of Change