Will miss protest site which witnessed our daily hardship, say farmers at Ghazipur border


NEW DELHI: Om Raj excitedly shows his small diary carrying details of all the friends he made at Singhu border, while Manak Singh says he will miss the protest site which witnessed their daily hardship for over a year to convince the Centre to repeal the farm laws.

Sitting with his friends on a cot near temporary tents set up at Ghazipur border, Raj (85) said the protest venue now feels like home and that the agitating farmers have developed a deep bond with each other.

The farmer, a native of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, shows his diary in which he has meticulously maintained details of all the protesters he has befriended in the past one year.

“See this is my tenth diary and there are hardly any pages left. I have maintained details of all the farmers I met here and became friends with over the period. We all stay in touch. The bond that we developed here has only become stronger. I also plan to visit them,” Raj says enthusiastically.

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At Ghazipur border, one of the three prominent venues of the anti-farm laws agitation, protesters were filled with excitement following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of repealing the controversial farm laws.

Another protestor says he will definitely miss the venue after he will return to his village.

Asked if he ever went to his hometown during the last one year, Raj recalled that he visited his native place on just two to three occasions and returned within a few days.

Since the last two months, the elderly farmer has set up a small venture which he starts at around 10 am and closes by 5 in the evening.

He says the intention behind it was just to have some ‘gupshup’ (conversation) and pass the time with other farmers.

He also showed the spread of the products for sale — bidis, matchboxes, badges and flags.

“When the farmers get bored, they sit here and pass time. I sell bidis and matchboxes which usually fetches me around Rs 100 a day,” he said.

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Manak Singh (77), a native of Amroha district in Punjab, says, “This spot has become our place for chit-chat. We will stay here until all the laws are repealed as per legal procedure. We will not go unless all our listed seven demands are met by the central government. This announcement by the Centre could have also been done with upcoming elections in mind.”

Having braved severe weather conditions and other hardship during their protest, the farmers say this has only made their brotherhood and will power stronger.

“If the government would have made this announcement earlier, we would not have suffered so much,” a protester rues. Meanwhile, a few tents away, 68-year-old Ram Kumar Sharma, hailing from Nithari village in Noida, had been serving ‘langar’ (free meals) from morning till night, at the protest site for nearly a year now.

Sharma, who is also a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, says he comes around 10 am and leaves at night after the last langar is served.

“I have been organising the langar with the spirit of social service. I will miss the farmers after they will leave the site,” he says.

“I do not want to see anyone going back with an empty stomach. I am myself a farmer and do not want to see anyone hungry,” he adds.