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Delhi’s Singhu border: Maze of trucks and sea of flags — and a makeshift library too | Delhi News


NEW DELHI: It looks likely to be a long haul and the agitating farmers are prepared for it. A day before the second round of talks between the land tillers and central government, the crowd at Singhu border continued to grow. The sea of trucks, tractors and wagons, bearing flags of farmers’ associations — in shades of red, green and yellow — extended over 5km on Wednesday.
The parked vehicles resembled a maze, with the several community kitchens, medical camps and makeshift stages adding to the riot of colours and sounds. Jo Bole So Nihal, the jaikara, or war cry, coined by Guru Gobind Singh, kept reverberating through the day. “It is going to be a long battle, but we are prepared to see it through. We are not going anywhere until these farm laws are repealed,” declared Sukhwant Singh, 65, a paddy farmer.
While the older generation speaks unadulterated Punjabi, the younger farmers are comfortable with Hindi and English too. “ Hum apni fasal ke karan hi padhe hain(We were able to study due to our harvests). The minimum support price (MSP) guarantee ensured that my father earned enough to send me to a good school. But this government wants to put an end to that,” claimed Sandeep Singh, 32, of Jind district. He believed that the end of MSP would herald the corporatisation of agriculture, also put general consumers at risk. “We are fighting for all of you, for India,” he added.
Vicki Mahesari, 29, has started a small library in a corner tucked behind two trucks. The Moga resident, who is the general secretary of All India Students Federation, comes from a family of farmers. He chose a tokra, a cane basket that villagers use to feed cattle, to display an array of books and Punjabi translations of classics, from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peaceto Maxim Gorky’s Mother. Haystacks serve as chairs in the library, while Mahesari and his team occupy a small mattress where they plan other cultural activities.
“We have a small range of books currently, but plan to expand the collection soon,” said Mahesari. “We know this will be a long fight, so we want to make sure that people have different ways of keeping themselves occupied.” Mahesari has also organised a painting event for Thursday, for which he has called farmers to paint and write their demands on a huge cloth canvas spread over the area.
Mahesari, whose surname is the name of his village, said the practice of having a common surname for residents of the entire village ensured that they did not discriminate against people on the basis of caste unlike in other parts of India. “This is a small step to ensure equality. Education is the biggest one. It ensures a level playing field,” said the young man. “Many politicians have stated that we don’t look like farmers because they hadn’t expected us to be well-spoken and welldressed. But the next generations of farmers knows and takes pride in their land and is aware of the importance of higher education.”
Jitender Singh, a 48-year-old paddy farmer who came to the library and picked up a book on contemporary Indian farmers and their problems, told TOI that he had decided to spend some time reading when he heard there were contemporary book on offer. “Some people I know had come here yesterday and they told me about the library. We need to understand old farm laws and know our history. And the best way to do that is through books. I plan to spend some time here daily,” he revealed.
All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Atul Kumar Anjaan told TOI that the months of impasse between farmers and the Centre had created a trust deficit that could not be mended with hollow promises. “We request the Prime Minister to not make this a prestige issue,” Anjaan said. “The existence of farmers has been challenged by these black laws. They are fighting for their survival, their identity and their pride.”



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