Won’t call off stir despite Covid surge, say farmer leaders

Far Away From Media Attention, Rural Punjab Keeps Farmers’ Protest Alive

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Mohali: “Sannu saal ho chaleya, Modi da pit syapa kardey” (‘We’ve been crying against Modi for over a year now but we won’t stop’), exclaimed Gurpreet Kaur, a lady in her late thirties who is that the movement in-charge at Baras village in Patiala district. Her two children and her husband accompany her everywhere.

“We have just come from Delhi. immediately i’m at a morcha near my village and our next trip to Delhi will happen after May 30,” she speaks loudly over the phone. a close-by loudspeaker at the protest site she was at kept drowning her voice.

Gurpreet leads a village-level committee for her union, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan). She mobilises over 100 women from the village. Gurpreet is among the various people in Punjab’s rural areas who became full-time protesters. She has not taken an opportunity from protesting and says that she is unafraid of the results .

There’s an individual like Gurpreet in every village of Punjab. The deep sincerity in every protester appears to be the very element that has fuelled the movement into one among the most important protests against an elected government in India.

This one-of-a-kind movement has been reeling under a health crisis, which too may be a first. it’s natural for an outsized , prolonged movement to possess its low points – especially when the media and public look from it. But, given the size of the pandemic and its consequences in India, the movement is additionally fighting a natural and inevitable setback.

Over 20 villages in Punjab became COVID-19 containment zones earlier this month. Shocking stories of death from rural parts of not just Punjab but Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have alarmed many.

Sandeep Singh, a young activist from Khamano village has told The Wire that folks are afraid to travel out. “Hun COVID tan hai hi (There is COVID, you know),” he says. “Nothing are often done about it,” he adds during a dispirited tone. “But when there are protest calls by the leadership from Delhi, we do the maximum amount as we will .”

He was pertaining to the event of May 26 – the day the farmers’ protest completed six months in Delhi. Almost every village participated during a show of support. those that couldn’t leave of their houses tied black flags to their terraces and balconies.

Last year, when the protest was gaining momentum in Punjab, many in rural Punjab had been least worried about the coronavirus. There was hesitancy towards testing, health teams were boycotted or driven away and masks were made fun of. But this year, several villages themselves imposed lockdown-like restrictions and villagers are now trying to urge vaccinated as quickly as they will .

Avtar Singh of Niamian village tells The Wire that there aren’t any COVID-19 cases in his village, but over 70% of the people there have inoculated themselves. The aim is to urge vaccinated in order that the protest against farm laws can get “back on track”.

“See, most folks are back immediately . But there’s always one person from this village at the border. There has got to be. Yes, there’s COVID but we’re also back because we wanted to sell our wheat and sow our paddy. this is often our livelihood. But, you see, after we’ve done the sowing, the numbers at the protest site will increase,” Jagroop Singh, another farmer from Fatehpur says.


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