Farmers across the country break language barriers and join the protest
Pooja Morey, a 30-year-old woman from Maharashtra, cheers and applauds as a farmer leader delivers a speech in Punjabi from the stage on the Singhu border on a warm Sunday afternoon. Morey, who does not speak Hindi very well, understands little of Punjabi, but says it doesn’t matter.
“My father is a farmer. Having seen his pain, I know that the language of speech does not matter. Anything that is said here in any language will help ease the pain of farmers across the country,” said Morey, who belongs to the village of Mirgaon in Beed.
Some distance away, among the crowd seated near the stage, a group of men belonging to a political party in Tamil Nadu also cheer for speeches every few minutes.
“We are also videotaping the speeches so that we can translate them later for those of us who don’t understand even Hindi,” said Jagdeesh Waran, coordinator of the Naam Tamilar Katchi political party.
Tamil Nadu men are luckier than Morey because they have a Punjabi man who occasionally translates speech for them. “Some understand Hindi and try to mess with Punjabi words. I translate the important parts of the speech, ”said Bhavneet Singh, a Delhi resident who accompanied the group to the Singhu border.
Morey and Waran are among the farmers, politicians and volunteers who have come from states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to join the protests on the Singhu border against the three agricultural laws passed by the Center.
Most of them have landed on the site in the last few days after traveling by train.
Gajanand Bangale, a farmer from a village in the Jalna district of Maharashtra, said he even spoke from the stage on Sunday. “I don’t know how many Punjabi farmers understood me, but they applauded often,” Bangale said.
Bangale said he owns several bighas of land in Maharashtra but struggles to feed his family. “If the government does not retract its three laws, my family will have even more problems,” Bangale said.
He said that about 1,000 farmers will soon arrive at this border from Amravati in Maharashtra. “Today they are at the border of Bhopal,” Bangale said.
Many of the people who have arrived from southern Indian states said they plan to stay here until the government submits to its demand for repeal of laws that farmers worry would put them at the mercy of powerful agribusinesses.
“On television I saw videos of farmers attacked with water cannons and tear gas. They needed the support of the country, so four of us took a train to get to Delhi station and from there a taxi to get here on Saturday, ”said Vijay Gorle, a farmer from Peddapuram city in Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
The four men slept together with the Punjabi farmers at night and plan to stay. “We tell Punjabi farmers namaste and they feed us until we beg them to stop,” Gorle said.
Apart from the farmers, there was a group of young men and women who said they came from Kashmir. “We come from an agricultural environment. So we picked up two cars to join the farmers here, ”said a Kashmiri man who did not want to be identified.
Here also came some doctors and volunteers from far away places like Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. “Our team of three doctors and a volunteer arrived here on December 2 after hearing the news that farmers were camping out in the cold. Bad weather means they will get sick, so we decided to be available to them, ”said Mridul Sarkar, a doctor from MBBS in Kolkata.