NEW DELHI: “Itt teri rakhdi hilake Dilliye’’ played on the tractors, kirtan in the background, a last cup of tea at the nearby langar and women in fulkari dupattas instead of shawls performed bhangra.
This was the scene at 8 am in the sprawling Singhu Border on Saturday, December 11, 2021, where hundreds of farmers were getting ready to bid goodbye to return to their home after more than a year. There were mixed emotions, a feeling of separation, pride at winning the battle as well as a longing to meet their wives, children and grandchildren.
Farmers at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders had assembled early in the morning at their respective entry points to leave together in a victory procession they called ‘Fateh march’.
As planned, most farmers left their respective borders around 9:30 am, leaving the national highway that became their home desolate with only broken bamboo sticks, flags, stickers of the protests, discarded blankets and utensils left behind. Some farmers had started leaving on Friday night itself to avoid a traffic jam in the morning.
The convoy had reached the Shambhu border in Haryana around 11:30 am where a helicopter apparently hired by a kisan union member showered flower petals on the farmers. “The police officials at the check points in Haryana who had stopped us from entering Delhi welcomed and congratulated. The animosity between them and us ended on a happy note,” said Ramninder Singh.
But there were some farmers who had not left Singhu, stating they would leave the border after making sure not an inch of waste material was left behind. A special task force of farmers who donned ‘swachch morcha’ jackets could be seen helping farmers to dismantle their handmade cottages and clean the surroundings.
Harmandeep Singh, a 55-year-old farmer from Punjab who was putting back his beddings in the tractor, said “70% of the handmade cottages and shanties have been vacated as most farmers left this morning. In another three days, this area will be free and clean.”
Amid the busy Saturday afternoon, when the remaining farmers were seen loading their luggage, beddings, folding beds, televisions, religious books, water filters and coffee making machines, there were some preparing a cozy bed in the tractors for their pet dogs and cats. Some farmers were also covering their horses with shawls and putting flowers on them before leaving.
Gurdev Kaur, a 72-year-old from Punjab who was waiting for her husband’s tractor to leave, said: “The happiness is not about going back home. It is about that we came to win and we won. What else can make us more proud? Also, we will always remember the ones who lost their lives on this battle ground.”
Another protest supporter, Joga Singh, 65, from Fatehgarh Sahib, whose duty was to give tea and prasad to the farmers every morning, said: “My heart is full. I and my son have been here since day one and our tea and prasad used to bring cheer to the farmers. I will miss each one of them.”
Meanwhile, the Kisan Mazdoor Ekta hospital managed by the Life Care Foundation NGO at the Singhu Border was abuzz with patients even on the last day when most farmers had left. Gurjeet Singh, a project manager who brought medicines worth Rs 2-3 lakh every month, said: “We have been receiving a lot of patients in the last days because farmers are dismantling their iron-made and bamboo-made cottages and shanties, during which they are getting hurt on their hands or feet. There are patients who are coming to get the dressing done, stitches done or some of the other medicines.”