Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Tikri, December 7
“May I use your quilt? Mine was soiled with milk this morning,” Tej Singh from Jhabelwal village in Muktsar asks farmer Mahinder Singh as both decide to retire for the night on a tractor-trailer after a hectic day of rallies, speeches and sloganeering at the Tikri border.
In fact, there is a long queue of trailers that have been converted into temporary homes where wards of protesting farmers attend online classes during the day. Intelligence reports say there are hundreds of vehicles housing more than 30,000 farmers.
Bhola Singh, who cooks
langar at the protest site, is about to call it a day. “We are a team of four. We begin work at 4 am and close the kitchen at 11 pm. Food is served to anyone who walks in. We have stocks that will last months. Our ‘kisan bhai’ from Haryana are daily supplying us with milk and vegetables,” he says. “We have enough volunteers for washing utensils,” adds cook Suba Singh.
“We have been allowed to use toilets in factories in the vicinity. Mobile public toilets have been stationed at certain places. Locals too are kind enough to allow us use the toilets in their homes,” informs another volunteer as he unrolls his mattress for a good night’s rest.
It’s 10.50 pm. A 70-year-old Kewal Singh from a village in Faridkot asks a group of youngsters to turn off the music, reprimanding them gently. The youngsters are in high spirits. They relent after a brief conversation. Just then Binder Singh, 75, from Golewala village in Faridkot, begins coughing. “You are frail and our agitation may be prolonged. Should I take you to a doctor,” asks an anxious Tej Singh, rushing to his side. “I am fine. In case of any emergency, you can take me to a nearby hospital,” responds an abdurate Binder Singh.
A few vehicles away, members of the Kirti Kisan Union are engaged in a discussion on “alternative” strategies. “We know it’s a long battle and we are prepared for it,” says vice-president Rajinder Singh Deep Singh Wala even as Bajinder Pal Singh from Bathinda prepares to carry protesters from his village back home the following day. “Replacement teams in two tractor-trailers have already started from the village,” he adds.