New Delhi: As thousands of farmers continue to camp at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu Border to protest against the three new farm laws, a new book stall has come up at the site. And the bestselling book at this stall happens to be the Constitution of India, albeit a Punjabi translation.
The stall has been set up by 32-year-old Jalandhar-based social activist Naresh Kumar, along with singer-activist Priya Banga and theatre artiste Simran Kranti. It has so far sold 62 of the 100 copies of the Punjabi translation of the Constitution in just three days. A Hindi version is also available.
“We set up the stall on 1 January. Yesterday, due to the rain, we didn’t manage to sell properly. So in three days, we have sold 62 of the 100 copies of the Punjabi translation of the Constitution that we got,” Naresh Kumar told ThePrint Monday.
Kumar said setting up the stall was his way of supporting the farmers.
“When I came to Singhu Border on 27 December, I wanted to help the protesting farmers. I saw that there’s a langar every few steps, so I knew there’s no dearth of food here. But there’s a dearth of knowledge, so I got the idea to set up this stall and sell translated versions of the Constitution,” he said.
The stall was set up with aid from the Power in Education International Organisation, US — a non-profit organisation. The translated copies of the Constitution are being sold at Rs 200 each, but that’s proving to be no deterrent to the protesting farmers.
“I never completed school. I’m buying myself a copy because I want to know for myself what the Constitution says and don’t want to be fooled,” said 60-year-old Amarjeet Kaur from Jalandhar. “Our children are educated but we are not. So we want to know what the Constitution says.”
Others like Charanpreet Singh, a student pursuing his master’s degree in public policy from Bengaluru, says buying a copy of the Constitution can help discern between what the farmer unions are saying and what the government is saying.
“We want to read and know for ourselves what the reality is,” Charanpreet said.
Pamphlets on the new farm laws
Apart from copies of the Constitution, another hot commodity at the book stall are free pamphlets on the three new farm laws. They explain the three laws in English on one side and in Punjabi on the other.
In three columns, the pamphlets also explain what the laws state, what the government is saying, and what the ‘reality’ is, in order to allow the protesters to decide for themselves.
The pamphlets have been written by Vir Harjinder Singh Gill, a lawyer, and Rajeshwarjeet Singh Brar, a journalist.
“Farmer unions and leaders have been explaining on stage and in the media for a while, but we want to know for ourselves the implications of these laws so we are picking these up,” said Charanpreet.
‘Knowledge is power’
The stall also keeps books on Sikh gurus and Gautam Buddha, and works by Lenin and Ambedkar.
While some protesters sit and read at the stall, other take away copies by providing details of their tractor-trollies and return them later after reading.
“We can even get more books and post it to their address if they want,” said Naresh Kumar.
The goal for him is to empower protesters with knowledge.
“Knowledge is power. So we want to empower the protesters by giving them the Constitution and educating them about the laws,” he said.