When Dr Swaiman Singh, a cardiologist based within the us , flew to India for a five-day visit last December, little did he know that his short sojourn would become a protracted mission to save lots of many lives.
The 34-year-old doctor, who has been living in New Jersey for the past 24 years, put his lucrative practice on hold to go to his homeland after getting distress calls from relatives in his native village, Pakhoke, within the western state of Punjab.The villagers told him that an in depth family friend had died after a huge attack at Tikri outside New Delhi , one among three main sites where thousands of Indian farmers are protesting since November.The farmers are demanding the repeal of three controversial farm laws that were gone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in September last year with none debate in parliament.
The leaders of the farmers’ unions say the laws are designed to favour private corporates, who would gain more control over India’s vast agriculture sector and deny them the minimum price for his or her produce currently guaranteed by the govt .In defence, Modi’s government says the laws would offer the farmers with better marketing options for his or her produce and break a monopoly of commission agents and government-regulated marketplaces, referred to as “mandis”.
Multiple rounds of talks between the farm leaders and therefore the government have did not break the months-old deadlock. The farmers still brave the scorching Delhi heat, saying they’re going to not return to their homes until the laws are withdrawn.Singh was told by the villagers that a family friend died because there was no doctor available to treat him at the Tikri protest site.
“I thought i will be able to come right down to see what help I could offer, maybe arrange some doctors at the location and leave,” Singh, who had also volunteered at the Black Lives Matter protests within the US, told Al Jazeera.
“But once I saw the condition of the elderly farmers, my heart just wouldn’t allow me to go away .”
The doctor says he started alone, “bought alittle table, a couple of chairs and medications and began alittle camp”.
“The second day, i used to be joined by another person then another, till slowly we grew into a full-sized community with a hospital, library and makeshift houses,” he told Al Jazeera.
Realising “that this could be an extended fight”, he left his fellowship programme at the Newark Beth Israel center midway to support the farmers’ agitation.
“For the past six months, we’ve been providing free medicines and every one sorts of medical help to farmers, including COVID testing. we’ve also started an evening shelter, a cinema and a library,” he said.Singh has left behind his wife and three-year-old daughter within the US. He says his family life has taken a back seat “because we’re fighting for a greater cause”.
Singh moved to the US together with his family at the age of 10. As a toddler , he saw his father, who was also a farmer, and his grandmother suffer in Punjab due to a scarcity of excellent healthcare.
That motivated him to choose the medical community and dedicate his life to serving others, he says.