Bharat Bandh, Holi and the rising mercury levels

Farmers talk about the March 26 bandh, Holika and gatka events and summer housing
Green mosquito nets and airy bamboo huts being installed for the summer
Green mosquito nets and airy bamboo huts being installed for the summer

The anti-farm bills protests will complete four months on Friday, March 26, which farmer unions will mark wi th a complete Bharat Bandh. “We had a meeting with 38 trade unions on March 18, and they have agreed to support us in the Bharat Bandh on Friday. All highways and markets will remain shut for the whole day,” informs Paramjeet Singh Katyal of Jan Kisan Andolan led by Yogendra Yadav.

To prevent confusion or delay in case of any mishaps, all 30 check points at Singhu border have been numbered, and the persons put in charge will be connected with the main control room. “We are holding a meeting today to plan all the safety and security arrangements to avoid any untoward situation on this day,” added Katyal.

Meanwhile, all borders observed the Martyrdom Day (Shaheed Diwas) of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on March 23. “On a call by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the youth from Punjab and Haryana turned up in huge numbers at the borders. At Ghazipur border, everyone wore yellow turbans like Shaheed Bhagat Singh to pay tribute to the martyrs and show resentment against the government,” added Rajan Jawla, LLB student and farmer leader from Shamli, UP. Addionally, Khalsa Aid had organised a 5km run at Tikri border, singers Ravinder Grewal and Harjeet Harman sang songs at Singhu border to keep the farmers motivated and The Particle Collective presented a play targeting the government.

Matyrdom Day (Shaheed Diwas) at Ghazipur border
Matyrdom Day (Shaheed Diwas) at Ghazipur border

Holi Preparations
“On Holika Dahan (March 28), we will burn the copies of farm bills at all borders and even in other states,” informed Katyal. Farmers will also burn Holika in the evening, and play with colours on the 29th. Nirmal Singh Cheema, Volunteer, Kadian Group from Jalandhar, said, “Earlier, Hola Mohalla used to be celebrated at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, but we will celebrate it here this year. Nihang Jathebandis will ride on their horses, and Gatka performances will be presented at the borders, and we will play with colours the next day.”

Summer Transformation
Green shade nets and bamboo huts are slowly replacing the yellow, black, and blue tarpaulins; fireplaces have made way for coolers and fans. At all three borders Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur people only start venturing out when the sun goes down. Katyal said, “Singhu border is better organised because we get funds from people living in Punjab and their families living abroad. One man donated 500 coolers three days ago. We had started making pucca sheds, but the government filed four FIRs against us. So we resorted to installing iron sheds covered with green nets on the sides as these keep the places airy and prevent mosquitoes. Another alternative are bamboo huts, and we have made a lot of them.

All trolleys have also been covered with mosquito nets.” Similar arrangements are being made at other borders too. “Bamboo huts have been made in 70 per cent of the area at Ghazipur border. Water is the main necessity in summer, so an RO with cooler has been set up here. People are donating coolers and fans. Even I donated four fans,” added Jawla. But due to mustard harvest and sugarcane sowing, the numbers have gone down a bit on the borders.

“Work will wrap up by May 15. People are mostly spending time inside their tractors and tents, but every day one rally is being held at Ghazipur in the evening to keep the spirits of people up. Around 800-1,000 people take part in it,” adds Jawla. However, the Kisan Mall is open just two days a week. “Our strength is low and our tents are half empty, and so the requirement is less,” informed Amarpreet Singh, Asia Pacific, Director, Khalsa Aid, India.

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