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‘Leaving part of me behind’ — Farmers begin to vacate Delhi borders as year-long protest ends

The agitating farmers from Punjab, Haryana & UP, who were camping at various Delhi borders for more than a year, began their journey back home Saturday.

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Haryana: Tents dismantled, bamboo polls removed, mattresses folded and loaded on tractors — it was an unusual site at Singhu as protesting farmers vacated Delhi borders Saturday. The air at Singhu which was earlier filled with chaos, laughter, and discussions is now back to its deserted self.

The agitating farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were camping at various Delhi borders for more than a year against the Centre’s three farm laws. On Thursday, farmers’ unions called off their protest and decided to return to their homes, nearly three weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three contentious farm laws will be repealed.

The farmers protesting at Singhu border gathered at the Western Peripheral Expressway around 8:30 am to start their journey back home. At Tikri, they assembled at Kisan Chowk in Bahadurgarh at 9 am, and those at Ghazipur border came together for one last time near the stage around 10 am.

A few of them, however, will stay back till the protest site — which was their “home” for over 12 months — is clean and litter-free.

Singhu border
Tents being dismantled at Singhu border | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Bhangra, sweets & garlands

As the farmers left Delhi’s borders, they carried out a victory march and were welcomed with garlands, flowers and sweets at various pit stops.

Trucks and trolleys were decorated with garlands and their families joined them. On the stretch of road from Singhu to KMP highway, farmers played music performed bhangra.

Men, women and children played with colours, and rose and marigold flowers were showered on every farmer vehicle that crossed the road.

While the protesting farmers are happy to finally head home, they say they will miss the “mitti” of Singhu. Some of them even packed some soil into tiny bottles as a memory of their struggle. Others said they were sad because the site had become their “pind (village)” and it was one whole family.

Harjinder Singh, Professor, Khalsa College, Patiala said, “bahut badiya lag raha hai. Humari ekta aur mehnat rang laayi (It feels really good. Our unity and dedication has borne fruits finally).” Back home, he says, his wife and children haven’t stopped calling him for the last two days as they eagerly await his return.

Harjinder, along with his brothers, has been part of the protest at Singhu since last November.

70-year-old Chandra Kaur says she is overwhelmed. “I lost my son 4 years ago. When I came here, I had so many sons. Sab ne milke pagdi ucchi kar li (They held the turban high). I feel happy that the agitation has ended victoriously… However, there is also a sharp pain inside me, I feel like a part of my heart will be left behind here forever”.

Farmers at Singhu border
Farmers at Singhu border perform bhangra | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Saturday afternoon also saw one last langar being cooked at Singhu border — for those still at the site and residents of the area.

Asked how they feel now that the roads are clear and the farmers are going back, Momina, a resident, said, “they have been giving food to us — tea, pakodas, roti, sabzi. They never ask questions, just offer us food whenever we pass by. We will miss the langar”.

Also read: How farmer protest on Delhi borders ended: The 5 demands govt agreed to, and the 1 it didn’t

The next step

The protesting farmers from Punjab now plan to gather at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. “Ji matha tekne jaana hai waha (We will go to seek God’s blessings),” 65-year-old Joginder Singh, who has been sitting tight at Singhu since November last year, said.

However, as they bid goodbye to the protesting site, the farmers maintained that they will return if the government backtracks on its words.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmer unions, will hold a review meeting in January.

Also read: Lesson from year-long protest: No govt, not even Modi-led BJP, can afford to annoy farmers


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