My second blog post as part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events. More posts may be found here.
Hardly had there been a semblance of relief from COVID infection farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, decided to lay siege around Delhi. Farmers were unhappy with recently enacted farm laws and wanted those repealed. Apart from dampening prospect of economic recovery, protest increased potential of ill health due to cold weather and COVID infection. Without going to merits and demerits of the farm laws and associated farmers protest, this is a fictional account of young Jassi joined the protest.
Kharif season was over. Paddy crop has been harvested. Jassi was setting post harvest stubble left to fire. He would prepare the cleared out field for the Rabi crop. Stubble burning was a ruse, Jassi was waiting to catch a glimplse of Preetpal Kaur. Ever since he had seen her in a village wedding, Preeto had caught Jassi’s attention. Every morning Preeto goes to village school with her friends cutting across Jassi’s field.
“Oye, you are here?” startled Jassi looked back to find his friend Rupi, “I am searching you everywhere; come, commander sahab has called all of us.”
“What is so urgent?” questioned Jassi with a tinge of impatience; Preeto hasnt shown up yet, “can’t you see I am busy.”
“Brother, do you know you can go to jail for burning stubble?”Rupi said, “soon government will cut our water and electricity connecton, unless you pay the due; so you better come now.”
“Going to jail for burning stubble? His father, grand father and others have burnt stubble for generations. No one went to jail. No one has paid for water and electricity either. After all, farmers of Punjab made India food sufficient. Now government is thinking of stopping our power and water?”
Disturbed Jassi had many questions; he followed Rupi quietly.
Pradhan, Kanwaljit Sandhu, is a well to do person. He had served in the army and commanded a division. Enemies say, Kanwaljit was a havildar. Controversy aside, Pradhan himself liked to be addressed as commander Sandhu or Sandhu sahab. A well to do farmer with large landholding, Sandhu sahab lived in a modern house that stood apart from the other dwellings. Pradhan owned more than one expensive cars and a few tractors. Kanwaljit was a farmer who got his farming done using hired labor. Pradhan for many terms now, commander Sandhu was known to be a helpful person who stood by villagers in the time of their need. He often helped villagers by funding them in their need. He also was a wholesale purchaser of produce of farmers that is sold in the mandi. People with a habit of exaggeration would gossip that, commander used to make a lot of money by selling his stored grains in the open market at higher price.
“Friends, because we did not vote for him, Modi has decided to destroy us, farmers” commander Sandhu was addressing a gathering of farmers in his front lawn, “Our Mandis will close, corporates will till our land, and some of our produce will be out of essential items list.”
“My brothers, situation is grave. Captain Amrinder Singh, chief minister, has rejected these black laws in state assembly. Ex chief minister and head of Shiromani Akali Dal, Badal sahab has broken alliance with the Modi government. Now it is our turn,” Sandhu sahab, looked at his audience to gauge their reaction, and continued his speech, “friends, we the followers of Guru Govind Singh sahab, we must fight to remove black laws; if we don’t act now, soon we farmers of Punjab have to go to other states in search of work;” Pradhan continued, “I suggest, we must go and cut Delhi from rest of India and force government to accept our demands.”
Next morning, Jassi along with Rupi hopped on one of several tractors and heading towards Delhi amid vigorous chanting of “Jo Bole So Nihal” by Pradhan, and that was responded by others saying “Sat Sri Akal,”. As they hit the higway, they saw many other were also going towards Delhi. Jassi felt like a soldier in Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji’s army, going to bring honor of Punjab back. “Once I come back”, he thought, “I can walk upto Rajbir Kaur’s father and ask for his daughter’s hand”. Yes, Preeto was his favorite. He was sure, Preeto liked him too. He had seen it in her eyes.
“Wake up son, we have work to do ,” He must have dozed off thinking of Preeto, when he was woken up by a gentle nudge, “this is Singhu border.” Many tractor with attached trolleys were standing infront and behind their transport. Everyone from our village is around here. We have supply store, a kitchen, bathing and sanitation, laundry facility, a library, a clinic and cyber center among others. We have tents for the elderly. For younger lot like you, you have to sleep on the tractor trolley or under it. You are a hardy farmer’s son, you shall cope, won’t you? Now we need volunteers to feed more than a lac people three meals daily. Go join them. Jassi joined langar sewa dedicated to feeding all. Thus began Jassi’s protest march from his village to Singhu border.
The protest has been continuing for more than a month now, as neither protestors nor government showing any sign of backing down.