Rajat Sharma

Do not defame farmers who are out in the open braving harsh winter

AKB30At a time when people in the National Capital Region are shivering in winter, with a minimum temperature of 3.5 degree Celsius, and with cold, icy winds blowing across Delhi, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and UP are staying in the open as the dharna entered the 23rd day. They cook their food in the open, eat at ‘langars’ and sleep inside trucks and trolleys.

On the other hand, the social media is buzzing with videos claiming that farmers are gorging on pizzas and rabri-jalebi sweets, using washing machines and foot massagers, and staying inside luxurious safari tents. Those circulating these videos claim that farmers are having a good time while putting thousands of commuters and traders to difficulties by blocking highways.

Before making such sweeping comments, one must realize that most of the farmers camping at Singhu border are Sikhs from Punjab. They know how to organize ‘langars’ (community kitchens), feed others, since this is part of their centuries-old Sikh tradition. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has been organizing ‘langars’ for these farmers, where they are provided breakfast, lunch, tea with snacks, dinner and hot milk at night. If some businessmen donate dry fruits, these are distributed among them. The gurdwaras have brought in roti making machines that churn out 20,000 rotis within an hour.

I was sent some videos showing some farmers staying in luxury tents, the type of camping tents normally used during jungle safari, equipped with heaters. It was claimed that there were hundreds of such tents, and a tent city has come up.

India TV reporters were sent to the dharna sites on Delhi’s border to find out the truth. Our reporter Pawan Nara found that a tent city has indeed come up, equipped with some luxury tents. These tents have been set up by Hemkund Foundation, which normally puts them up for pilgrims who visit Hemkund Sahib. There are roughly 100 such tents, which are not booked. Anybody is free to stay inside such tents. But the number of tents is nor more than 100, whereas the number of farmers is nearly 60,000. Most of them the farmers are spending their nights inside trucks and tractor trolleys. To say that farmers are having a whale of a time staying inside luxury tents is incorrect. The trolleys are covered with tarpaulin, mattresses have been put on hays for farmers to rest and sleep in 3 degree Celsius temperature.

There is another video showing washing machines being used by farmers. On checking, it was found that only three or four washing machines have been bought by two farmers, while thousands of others are washing their clothes in the open. Another video shows farmers using foot massagers. Our reporter found that only a few foot massagers have been provided, some by Khalsa Aid organisation, for the benefit of aged farmers and old women accompanying them. A few saloons are working where farmers get their hair cut free of charge.

The farmers have brought foodgrains, pulses and vegetables with them. They are having food at ‘langars’ run by gurdwaras, but some mischievous elements are propagating that the farmers are having a pizza party, which is untrue.

I believe it is highly improper to level allegations that farmers camping at Delhi’s border are having a good time. We should rather thank people who have provided tents and other facilities to farmers. This is part of our old cultural traditions: to help people in distress. This year, during March and April, we have seen how people on the roadside distributed food and water to migrant labourers who left the cities during lockdown and walked on foot to their villages. Transporters allowed their trucks to be used to carry those migrants. Some people had sent migrants to their home towns by aeroplanes.

It will be highly unjustified to introduce such frivolous matters like use of tents and washing machines, to the basic agricultural issues that are being debated both by the farmers and the Centre. I would request all not to trust such videos being circulated by vested interests. Some people may have the opinion that the agitating farmers have been misguided and are adamant, but spreading confusion through such videos is not acceptable. I am against all such people who spread false videos and try to create divisions in society.

We at India TV exposed how those from ‘tukde tukde’ gang chanted anti-Modi slogans and displayed placards in support of anti-national elements. I would again request our farmer friends to continue their discussions with the government. They should not mistrust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s motives and work towards an amicable solution. I would also like to appeal to people circulating such videos not to defame the farmers. They are our ‘annadatas’ (food providers) and they have some issues with the new farm laws. Let them settle these matters in a peaceful manner.

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