EIGHTY-TWO-year-old Bhagwan Kaur has been staying at Tikri border since November 26 last year. She is a resident of Mehal Khurd village in Barnala and has gone home only once for Lohri.
“All our demands have been met and I think it is time to return home now. Though we haven’t started packing yet as are waiting for an announcement from Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). I am in no hurry to return and can stay here till we are told,” said Kaur, whose wrinkled face still has a smile on.
Like her, Amarjit Singh (63), from the same village, went home only twice in the past one year. “We don’t want to sit on the road. Even we have families and it’s been months that I sat with them and had a cup of tea. And now that our struggle is coming to an end, I am happy. If SKM makes a formal announcement, we will start winding up things here and can leave on Friday afternoon,” he said, adding that the farmers from Haryana will leaving first.
“Haryana farmers have planned to welcome us grandly. They will be garlanding us, shower flower petals on us and even prepare a special langar for us. It is our brotherhood that kept us together in this dharna.. Punjab- Haryana da ekta zindabaad (long live the unity of Punjab – Haryana),” said Amarjit, who is a retired teacher and also a farmer.
The protest site at Tikri wore an unusual excitement on Wednesday after the SKM announced that they had arrived at a consensus with the government on the demands and a formal decision to lift the protest will be taken on Thursday afternoon.
Kaur added that initially she was unsure of coming to the protest site but after she here, she realised that there are lots of people to take care of her. “People here take care of me and I can also talk to my family over phone. Besides, Amarjeet is from my village and he always stays by me like my son,” she said.
Similar was fifty-year-old Balwinder Singh’s situation. He, who has polio, wanted to be part of the protest but couldn’t make it earlier. “My elder brother does farming on our family land of 10 acres in Sukhpramaur village in Barnala. I am more of a revolutionary, but because of my disabilities, my family was not ready to send me here. But when we got to know that there were arrangements of western toilets at the protest site, I came here on March 11, 2021 and never went back since then,” he said.
Harcharan Singh (64) is the finance secretary of BKU Dakauna (Barnala) that has been at Tikri border since November 26, 2020. Harcharan said that in the past one year, he went to Punjab only twice – once when a relative passed away and another when his daughter had to go abroad. “The Tikri stage has been my second home for the past one year. There is a 2-acre vacant land adjoining a private hospital near the stage and we grow vegetables at the site. The hospital authorities helped us a lot and even provided us with water supply. We used these vegetables for the langar and lots of people would join us for lunch. Families of labourours would have food with us and now that we have to leave, they are sad. We lived like one big family here,” he said.
Harcharan also recalls the tough times that they faced. “The strong wind would blow away the tarpaulin sheets and whenever it rained, water would enter the sitting area. Mosquitoes kept troubling us and someone or the other always had fever but we did not give up. There were doctors to take care of us and we will always remember our unique struggle,” Balwinder said.
Buta Singh Burjgill, president of BKU Dakaunda, said that when most of them leaves, some people will stay back at the site to clean up behind them. “After a formal announcement by SKM on Thursday, farmers will march towards Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan etc from Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. A fateh (victory) march will be taken out at the protest sites before we leave. We will also clean the area before leaving the protest sites. Groups have been formed and they will stay back for the cleanliness drive,” he said.Internet Explorer Channel Network