Punjab has been the center of global and national attention even since September 2020. The farmers’ movement against the infamous farm laws that started in Punjab is now spread across the states in the country. The farmers protesting at the borders of Delhi have been receiving overwhelming support from farmers across the country for the last five months. Though Punjab and Haryana were the first to give a call for ‘Delhi Chalo’ farmers organisation and people in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have come together in solidarity by giving a ‘Delhi Chalo’ call in their respective states.
The ongoing protests across the Delhi borders looks as though there are new villages that have cropped up. People from Punjab have been relentlessly camping at these borders for more than seventy days now. How are the people of Punjab living in Punjab protesting? Intending to find an answer for this question, the Gauri Media Team visited Punjab and documented the protests there in the state which could be called as the birthplace of this historical movement.
People of Punjab have been protesting against the three farm laws since September 2020. All the toll plazas across the state have been blocked. All the establishments owned by Reliance have been occupied. The famous ‘rail roko’ movement where the trains coming into Punjab were stopped by the protesters, though not with the same intensity, is still being carried out in some places in the state.
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Every day, starting from twelve in the noon till five in the evening, for last five months have been protesting by blocking railway station, malls and toll plazas. Local residents of the neighboring villages also participate in large numbers in these protests. While many of the protesters return to their homes at five, many have been staying back on their tractors and tents at these points. The protests at several places like Patiala for example, where protests have been taking place every day.
The first thing that caught our attention as soon as we entered Punjab was the sight of youth standing at the central locations handing out the pamphlets. Every vehicle moving on the streets has farmers’ flags tied upon them; every shop and house here are surrounded by the iconography of the farmers’ movement, we could see the flags literally everywhere and could hear slogans being raised in every nook and corner. It is impossible to be untouched by the scenic beauty of Punjab with sprawling large acres of land with lush green shoots of the wheat crop with the flags of farmers movement tied on top of the houses in the middle of the fields. We also saw a unique way in which the people of Punjab were showing their solidarity to the protesting farmers by honking the horns of their vehicles. They do this for five long minutes and in a chorus. Other than this, the common sight is the tractors moving in and out of Punjab from and to Delhi borders. Most importantly, the Punjab police are nothing like the Delhi Police who have been disrupting the peaceful protests.
We witnessed the ‘chakka jam’ (toll blockade) protest in Barnala and Ludhiana. The farmers congregating at the Barnala railway station to participate in the ‘chakka jam’ were dividing themselves into five groups. The blockade protest took place at five points across the districts of Barnala and Ludhiana. Thousands had congregated and blocked the Mehal Kalan toll plaza and hundreds protested by singing songs in Jagru of Ludhiana.
Translated by Yogesh S