The national capital today woke up to a heavy thunderstorm and rain, the cloud cover bringing down the temperature to around 8 degrees centigrade in the morning. Yet, the biting cold seems to have turned some farmers camped in makeshift conditions around the city’s border only more defiant. Far from shivering and quivering, they stood there bare-chested and raising the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”.
Even as a number of Delhiites shared photos and videos on social media of ice formed on window sills and in front yard lawns, farmers at the Singhu border between the city and Haryana, struggled with soggy mattresses in this cold weather. This is the second consecutive day of light showers in the National Capital Region while the protesters have completed 39 days of their sit-in against three central agricultural laws passed by Parliament in September.
“It’s tougher when we water our fields in the winter. This weather can’t affect the movement,” said 46-year-old Harjeet Singh Johal from Tarn Taran, Punjab, camped at Singhu.
Like Mr Johal, there are thousands across border points such as Ghazipur, Tikri, Chilla, and Shahjahanpur, besides Singhu. Some of those at Delhi-Noida’s Chilla border ppint have even removed their shirts to send out a tough message to the government.
“Farmers never shy away from facing difficulties. If our demands are not met, I will march like this on 26th January as well,” said Daddan Singh, one such farmer at Chilla. Mr Singh is from Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district. The farmers unions have threatened to hold a tractor rally, “Kisaan Parade”, in the national capital parallel to the traditional Republic Day Parade on January 26.
Baghel Singh, one of the volunteers of Hemkunt Foundation working at the Singhu protest site confirmed that some 200 tents available there were fully occupied because of the rain. His team has today installed some tents at the Shahjahanpur border point as well. NGO Khalsa Aid India has provided non-electric geysers, besides tarpaulin tents and 10,000 raincoats to protesters.
“These geysers don’t require any effort but are crucial as sometimes farmers don’t have any other option but to bathe in the open at several locations in this weather,” said Amarpreet Singh of Khalsa Aid.
Although nothing seemed to matter to Durgesh Verma, one of the “shirts-off” protester at Chilla, shouting “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan”.
“We are not scared of this weather as our spirits are alive,” he said. And the “spirits” apparently demand only one thing: revoke the contentious farm laws.