Republic Day as I saw it

Sharanjit Kaur, Jogewala, Moga
Read in Gurmukhi
For the first time in my life, I saw January 26 (Republic Day) in Delhi. When I came to take part in the farmers protest, Kisan Mahila Diwas was also celebrated, which was a heartening experience as the protest was going on peacefully and many other important days were also being celebrated. The parade of January 26 was eagerly awaited to be seen up close, it was not known till the night of 25th January whether the ladies were to join the parade or not, so we went to bed without any preparation as there was growing anticipation of the parade returning to Singhu in 72 hours. Then a fellow woman got a call from outside that buses have been brought for the ladies and we were instructed to reach the main stage at eight o'clock. So we hurriedly got ready and walked the long distance from the ‘Rasoi Dhaba’ to the stage, took a lift from a tractor on the way which got stuck in the growing traffic jam, and we started walking again.

We made it to the stage at half past ten and we waved goodbye to the passing tractors leaving for the parade by holding a tricolor flag as people do when a political leader passes by their villages. someone as if we were a minister. I felt extremely tired after the long crisp walk, and along with my friend decided not to participate in the parade and rested at Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial for a while. We took photos of the parade and walked back to the dhaba at about 12 o'clock. While tractors were marching with enthusiasm, it was the pedestrian parade that kept on growing. Hundreds of folks were pouring in and joining the parade even past noon. It was getting difficult to return back to the 'Rasoi Dhaba' because of all the zigzagging we had to do to avoid Sometimes we jumped over the hooks of the trolleys to the left and sometimes to the right, and the 6-7kms walk seemed to take forever.

About halfway through, tractor drivers were telling each other that the flag had been hoisted at the Red Fort. I thought that perhaps ‘the farmer flag’ had been hoisted. But when I asked around, I got to know that some other flag had been hoisted, and I got a subtle feeling that the government accomplished its purpose. Now they have defamed the dharna. I was saddened that the dharna was by the farmers, of the farmers, for the rights of the farmers, which was against the black laws, and the idea was to keep it peaceful. It was just like taking a wedding picture where every family member wants to get the best shot of their own and sometimes hide the bride and groom in that process.

When we reached the dhaba, the sentiment was mixed: some were feeling hurt and dejected while others celebrated the entry of farmer's into Delhi after two months of sitting at the Delhi borders. There was someone who was distributing jaggery ( which as a tradition in Punjab is distributed after a win or on a happy occasion), I couldn't help but confront that what's so joyful about this news, when the peaceful protest that the farmers built over a period of six months is in jeopardy? Did the hundreds of thousands farmers left the comfort of their homes to sit and sleep in the harsh winter for nothing? At Red Fort, our sons are getting killed, the rest will be sued and won't have access to food, water or warm blankets, take your jaggery away and think about how this will impact our future. Then the man who was distributing the jaggery burst into tears because by waving the flag we let Modi win, who had been saying since then that the dharna was not of farmers but of the Sikhs. The contribution of farmers who from Haryana and other states seems to be diminished by Modi government and Godi media. Their contribution to the struggle is equal. Haryana langars also serve milk, lassi and roti. Khap also have a langar where they politely address us Punjabis with ‘Sat Sri Akal’ and then serve langar. So by hoisting the flag, we have ruined their deeds also.

This is what I saw in the parade of January 26. I believe we should have stayed calm and tackled the black laws with a peaceful tractor march. Now we are labeled as ‘Khalistani’ with which the common farmer has nothing to do. The farmer has nothing to do with any kind of 'stan’, he has everything to do with his fields. He feels on top of the world by sitting in his field, however big or small. If we have to succeed, , then we must let the peasant movement remain a peasant movement, and avoid to paint it as a communal one.