Farm law repeal: Hope, caution and celebration at Singhu Border

Farmers at the Singhu border described the announcement to repeal farm laws as a semi-victory after the hardest battle. Many were cleaning tractors and trolleys to transport families to the site on November 26, the first anniversary of the day the indefinite protest. “A lot of our folks will join us this weekend as wheat has been sowed. Two days ago, we brought back our blankets to prepare for winter and had ordered more,” said Gurmeet Singh, who like many others was surprised by the announcement.

Women were seen leading the celebrations. “We ran to the 24-hour hospital to thank doctors and medical staff. We embraced Manjeetji who put up toilets when women joined the stir. Today is our Diwali. They did everything to break us, but we broke them,” said Savneet Oberoi, who was there to meet her 77-year-old father Pavanjeet Singh, a war veteran from Ludhiana, who has been on protest since February. “We lost our mother and our uncle back home… Still he refused to give up. Our mother used to set aside some money for the gurdwara and temple every year after the produce was sold. This time we invested in a langar, as this is no less a holy place,” she said.

“I have 30 cases against me for taking part in the Republic Day protest. There are at least 20 of us here who have more than 40 criminal cases. Our documents have been confiscated. We want it to be addressed first,” said Dharmendra Singh, a protestor manning the stage. “We have always been a martial race. They should have never tested our resolve,” said Arjan Singh.

Victory marches on tractors were held at Singhu, Kundli and Narela. There will be a Nagar Kirtan on Saturday to mark extended Gurpurab celebrations. “Why did he wait for a year? They called us names. Often we thought of retreating, particularly after Republic Day. But Babaji kept us going,” said Gurnaam Singh.

BKU’s Bhupender Chaudhary said hundreds of farmers have been slapped with multiple cases. “The way the government reacted to us for participating in protests in the last one year will hurt it,” he said. “After Lakhimpur, we were particularly careful. The crowds were swelling and during weekends there would be more than 10,000. Only God showed us the way,” Gurnaam Singh said. “The local population had to be told how worried we were because we were sitting on the road. This is an industrial area and transport of goods needs space. It was not easy getting their support.”

Almost everyone agreed that blaming farmers and calling them Khalistanis hurt them most. It deepened fault lines between Hindus and Sikhs. “Before starting any good work in the house, we all pray to Mansa Devi although we are Sikhs. But protests brought in differences which never existed,” said Harleen Kaur, 68, who has been on the site for six months.

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