New Delhi, December 17
The Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders have come up as the most prominent protest sites for the ongoing farmers’ agitation, but one location — Singhu — seemingly has been receiving more limelight than the others.
While there is no dearth of the fighting spirit among demonstrators at Tikri and Ghazipur either, the facilities at these relatively smaller protest sites are limited.
Singhu, which has emerged as the centre of the agitation, has had a constant influx of resources both in cash and in kind.
Over the days, good Samaritans, gurdwara committees and NGOs have made large donations as well as pooled technological resources to sustain the agitation.
For over two weeks now, thousands of farmers, largely from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the new farm laws at these Delhi borders after repeated rounds of talks with the government have ended in stalemate.
According to Ranjit Singh, who has been camping at the Singhu border since November 26, the site has been receiving higher traction than the other two because it was the first border to be blocked.
“Singhu hit the headlines earlier than Tikri and Ghazipur, which is why all these organisations came here offering help, but they are also offering similar ‘sewa’ at the other borders,” the member of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) said.
“The facilities also seem more here because there are more people here. That is it. The sentiment to fight for our rights is the same everywhere,” he said.
Among the noticeable technology-powered facilities at Singhu are roti-making machines and steam boilers.
Installed at multiple ‘langars’, the roti machines and boilers that can make 1000 to 1200 chapatis in an hour and cook 50 kg of rice and dal at a time, respectively, ensure a consistent supply of food throughout the day for one and all.
Several farmers at Singhu have themselves installed solar panels on their tractor-trolleys for charging mobile phones and running washing machines to ensure supply of clean clothes to the protestors.
While the other sites are not devoid of these facilities, the provisions there are simply fewer in number.
Both Tikri and Ghazipur have multiple ‘langars’ offering food supply throughout the day and, like Singhu, mobile charging and medical facilities have been made available at both the sites.
Though some claim the difference in availability of facilities is because of the economic disparity between the protesting farmers at different sites, all three venues have farmers from mixed economic backgrounds.
There are farmers owning five acres as well as 50 acres of land at all sites.
Many protestors said the facilities were more at Singhu simply because it was the focal point of the agitation.
Jagtar Singh Bhagiwander, a farmer who is agitating at Tikri, said there was as much of a rush at Tikri as there was at Singhu.
“When it comes to new facilities, Singhu has an advantage because it is on the highway and it is more accessible,” he said.
“Another important factor is that most of those agitating at Singhu come from a wealthy background which makes all the difference,” said Bhagiwander, a farmer who is agitating at Tikri.
Gurunam Singh, who is also protesting at Tikri since the very beginning, said Tikri was receiving as many facilities as Singhu.
Whatever little difference there might be is because Singhu is where the “main leadership is centred”.
“We too are getting donations here for close to Rs 1 lakh on daily basis but the major chunk goes to Singhu because it is the centre of our agitation. It has nothing to do with the economic divide among farmers. We were not sure if we would reach Delhi borders but since we were allowed by the Haryana side, we then diverted towards Tikri and the main leadership settled at Singhu,” Gurunam said.
At Ghazipur, facilities and protestors might be fewer, but no one’s complaining.
“If Singhu is getting more facilities, it is because there are more people there, but this is not a competition between protest sites. All of us are here to demand our rights and wherever facilities are being provided, it is helping our movement. We don’t have roti machines here, but there is no lack of food supply. Like farmers in Singhu or Tikri, we are also charging our phones from our tractors,” Alok Solanki, a farmer from Kannauj, said.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at several Delhi borders against the new agri laws for the 22 days.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. PTI