Tribune News Service
Jhajjar, November 26
They braved the elements but did not lose heart and stayed put at the Tikri and Singhu borders with the intention of bending the Centre before their demand of repealing the three farm laws.
Punjab farmers have been protesting at these places for the past one year. They occupied a stretch of 10 km on National Highway-9 from Bahadurgarh bypass to Tikri and a similar area on National Highway-44 at Singhu when Delhi Police did not let them enter the capital on November 27 last year. They have since been camping there to carry forward their agitation.
“It was not easy for us to adjust to these conditions but then we had come with the resolve that we would not return without getting our demands met. Winter was approaching when we camped at Tikri and Singhu a year ago. We had no option but to turn trolleys into make-shift rooms to protect us from cold,” says Pargat Singh, general secretary, BKU (Rajewal).
He says they braved severe cold conditions but these snatched many fellow protesters from them. Yet, the agitation continued with the same enthusiasm. Summer brought new problems like scarcity of water, long power cuts, breeding of mosquitoes, he adds.
“We had to dig borewells and install RO systems to address the drinking water issue. Solar plates were used to get electricity while a lot of money was spent to erect huts to save ourselves from the scorching heat. Many of our huts both in Singhu and Tikri caught fire at night forcing us to keep vigil to ward off anti-social elements,” says Singh.
Purshotam Singh Gill, another farmer leader, says they also developed parks by lifting garbage, levelling the surface, planting saplings and putting benches. Air-conditioners, coolers, fans and deep freezers were arranged. “We had to be vigilant round-the-clock to foil any conspiracy to stop our agitation," he added.
Gurchant Singh of Faridkot says monsoon was not short of a disaster. “Rain flooded the protest sites at the Delhi borders. We spent sleepless nights while draining out the water or protecting our belongings, but adversity failed to lower our morale as we were here for a do-or-die battle," he adds.
Raising questions over the district administration's intentions, Jaspreet Singh from Sangrur says the administration left no stone unturned to harass them. "Despite repeated requests, it failed to provide potable water, electricity and mobile toilets,” he adds.
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