NEW DELHI: Many locals are coming forward and extending a helping hand to protesting farmers who are facing difficulties like power outage, unavailability of water and lack of sanitation at Singhu border, the epicenter of the ongoing farmers against the three contentious agri laws.
Be it providing electricity connection from their houses or giving access to toilets and washrooms to the women protestors, farmers staying put at the Delhi-Haryana Highway say the good samaritans have been helping them in these dire circumstances.
"We are facing power cuts at night since January 27. If not for the locals, we would have to do without electricity the whole night. They are the one helping us with lights and other things, that too without charging us anything," said Dharmendra Singh, from Punjab's Patiala district.
Initially worried that miscreants might take advantage of the dark at night, Singh thanked God for the help provided by the locals and team of volunteers who are working round-the-clock to maintain vigil against any untoward incident.
Another protestor Avtar Singh, also from Patiala, echoed the same sentiments and said that the locals are standing with them in this "fight for rights". "People in the nearby areas are helping our women in all possible ways. They are letting them use their washrooms and toilets. They know that the government is trying to suppress our movement and are supporting us wholeheartedly," said Singh, adding that they won't move an inch till their demands are met by the government.
He further stated that the locals have always been nice to them and their cause, and alleged that the attack that took place a few days ago at the site was not done by the locals but by goons sent by a political party. On January 30, a section of the highway at the Singhu border witnessed a clash between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.
Insufficient lighting, solid waste disposal, water stagnation and shortage of warm clothes have been listed down as primary concerns of the farmers as per a survey done by NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan in December as well.
Many farmers have complained that the situation has worsened further after the Republic Day incident, with heightened security measures and restrictions imposed for movement of people and vehicles ensuring that they don't have access to even the most basic necessities like food, water and electricity.
The suspension of the internet has only added to the problem as they feel cordoned off from the outer world -- both virtually and physically. "The government banned the internet and blocked the roads with concrete dividers so that the public would not get any information regarding the protest and no one would turn up here," complained Palwinder Singh, from Punjab's Amritsar.
Even on Monday, the Budget Day, most farmers at Singhu blamed the lack of Internet for not getting to keep a tab on the details of the budget and if it has anything for the agriculture sector. The central government on Monday extended the temporary suspension of Internet at Delhi's borders at Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri till February 2.
Earlier, the Internet services at Delhi borders had been suspended for 48 hours till 11 pm on January 31.