For over 40 days, a massive number of farmers have camped at the Singhu Border, the nerve-centre of the agitation that is seeking repealing of the new farm laws.
As a stretch of the GT Karnal highway has turned into a temporary site of shelters for peasants, drawn mainly from Punjab and several ‘langars’ being run on the streets, sanitation has emerged as a challenge for them.
But volunteerism and a good samaritan spirit, the two defining ideals sustaining this massive campaign, is endeavouring to provide a safer and sanitable environment for the protestors.
On Friday, a contingent of four men, two of them carrying anti-dengue fogging machines, carried disinfection in various stretches of the protest site.
Many were taken by surprise as these men, briskly walked around the area, while a white cloud of disinfecting smoke filled the air.
“We have come to offer ‘sewa’ (services) from Gurudwara Nada Sahib in Panchkula. We want our farmers to be safe in this environment, so we have brought this fogging machines with us. Due to slush on the streets after rains and organic waste discarded from the ‘langars’, there are chances of breeding of mosquitoes, so we are here to prevent that,” said a volunteer.
Rainfall in the last few days have created a lot of puddles on the streets at the protest site, potential breeding sites for mosquitoes.
“Our fellow farmers are suffering in cold and they can contract malaria or dengue, so this is the least we could do. And it is all grace of Waheguru above, the protector of all. We are just the ‘sewadars’, following his will,” said the volunteer.
The imposing Gurudwara Nada Sahib is situated in Panchkula on the bank of the Ghaggar river in Sivalik foothills in Haryana. It is a famous religious place of the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, had halted here while travelling from Paonta Sahib to Anandpur Sahib after the Battle of Bhangani in 1688.
Brothers Dalbir Singh (65) and Balwinder Singh (72) from Panipat, who have been coming on and off to the Singh Border protest site, praised the volunteers from Panchkula.
“That man carrying the fogging machine, in the front of the marching group, in all probability would be a rich man, but it’s the spirit of ‘sewa’ that has drawn him here. This is what our Guru Nanak Dev Ji had preached serve all without discrimination as we do in langars. The spirit of ‘Sangat’ and ‘Pangat’ drives us,” said Dalbir Singh.
On Friday, amid winter of January, it was yet another day of protest for the farmers, even as the eighth round of talks between the farmer leaders and the Centre remained inconclusive.
Cries of ‘Saada Haq, Aithe Rakh’, ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ and ‘Kisan Union Ekta Zindabad’ rent the air throughout the day, as coloured turbans of protesting farmers added vibrancy to the scene of agitation.
“We will not budge, until our demands are not met. We will face all challenges with fearlessness,” Balwinder Singh said.