The farmers’ blockade continues at Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border for a sixth straight day today. Aerial shots of the border crossing show a seemingly never-ending line of tractors pulling tarpaulin-covered trailers, each of which is filled with food, water, fuel, medicines and other essential goods.
The images reinforce the farmers’ message – that they will not back down till their concerns are heard and the new farm laws are repealed.
While the sheer scale and intensity of the farmers protest has made headlines around the country (and world), what has not really been evident so far is the depth of planning and organisation behind the “Dilli Chalo” campaign.
Together the trailers contain an exhaustive list of provisions needed on a day-to-day basis, with even the most mundane catered to; this includes detergent to wash clothes, toothbrush and paste for dental hygiene, and even slippers.
A group of farmers from Punjab’s Kapurthala, for example, has brought with them an ambulance and cartons full of medicines for various ailments.
“We also have a doctor to take care of medical emergencies. We are also providing cloth masks to farmers because of Covid. While there are several langars (community kitchens) being set up, medical supplies were not present. So we decided to take care of that aspect,” Avtar Singh Walia, who is heading this particular camp, told NDTV.
At other camps in the Singhu blockade farmers can be seen preparing food on portable stoves; they’ve brought with them rations for six months.
Ropes have been strung from one tractor (or trailer) to another to help dry clothes.
The Khalsa Aid Foundation, meanwhile, has made arrangements for tea and snacks, including kheer, and hundreds of bottles of mineral water.
“Apart from food arrangements for all farmers, we have set up 20 mobile toilets for women. Farmers are camping here all day and night and we want to ensure they don’t face hassles,” Amarpreet Singh, the Director of the Foundation, told NDTV.
“We have several volunteers from Khalsa Aid to take care of all their needs,” he added.
Over the past few days thousands of farmers have marched on Delhi to protest what they say are “black” and “anti-farmer” laws. The protesters, braved brutish attacks from the police to reach the borders of the national capital on Friday morning.
On Tuesday afternoon 35 representatives sat down to meet with the centre to discuss these laws. The centre is unlikely to repeal its farm laws, sources have said, but will try to dispel concerns over MSP – the minimum price guaranteed by the government for certain crops.
The centre says its laws will reform the sector by removing middlemen, and improving earnings by allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country. The farmers, though, fear that not only will they lose the MSP but the small and marginal brethren will be left at the mercy of corporates.