Friday, January 08, 2021


Baba Banda Singh Nagar, Chacha Ajit Singh Nagar, Bibi Gulab Kaur Nagar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura Nagar. Miles long tractor-trolley township of those struggling for their rights at Tikri is divided into these five cities named after historical personalities who represent a legacy of struggles.

Under the metro line for a few kilometers, each metro pillar is an address for the homes the farmers have made for last seven weeks. Pillar 772 is Faridkotiyan da langar. Pillar 783 on one side is Shaheed Bhagat Singh Library and on the other side a tent city.

And as the coiled snake, that this tractor-trolley township is, unwinds for twenty kilometers away from the metro, markers appear – a new plantation of milestones and addresses.

Village Rodewala is here and so is village Aulakh. These are only a few miles from Sangroor and Kotkapura as the milestones indicate. Talwandi Malian welcomes you, ji aayan nu. A few miles away are Daya Kalan and Kishanpura Kalan. Somewhere in this tractor-trolley township there indeed breathes a Sangroor, a Kotkapura, a Daya Kalan and a Kishanpura Kalan.

Someone has taken up the challenge to raise Pind California. Welcome signs are up and half of the under-construction bus stand next to the road, where resistance lives for now, has already been converted to a comfortable lodging for females. As the labour employed by state continues to complete the construction of the bus stand, so does the labour of the volunteers stay busy making these half-completed rooms at the bus stand into livable lodges.

And in the cemented open space of this un-operational bus stand we meet Sihauda. There are fires burning in their chulhas as children, youngsters, elderly all work on getting their next meal ready. I look at clouds above and try to gauge if the skies can match the fire burning inside the residents of Sihauda.

Bapu Zora Singh, 74 years, welcomes me as he pads the mattress next to him. I jump over the rear door of the trolley. From a village in Sangroor we have soon found relatives who live in villages 5 miles apart. That’s much more acquaintance than required here in this township of resistance than if we were neighbours in the indifferent million bungalows and highrises a few kilometers away.

Their tarpaulin developed some holes so the water from last rain entered their trolley, half of their mattresses and quilts are wet and with no Sun these will stay wet for a while. But that is no deterrent to bapu ji’s spirit. When asked about his health – he says chardi kala, body and spirits are in a blessed high.  When asked till when he will stay here – ‘ja tan jitke jawanage, ya marke,’ ‘will return victorious or dead.’

Over seventy deaths in seven weeks. The final address in the journey of many who joined this movement. Each passing day, the number on this particular milestone increases. Yet, the inconsiderate and indifferent tweet for Ganguly’s heart surgery and America’s Capitol Hill. For the moment there is no Sanjay who speaks truth to this Dhritrashtra.

Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur, Chilla, Shahjahanpur, Palwal are now not just ordinary points on highways and expressways, that we crossed on our travels without a second thought (or while cursing the traffic jams at tolls). These are now names that bring with them images of tractor-trolley townships, roadside tent cities, and lacs of sons of soil raising their and in turn their people’s voice amidst biting winters and pouring rains and a short distance away from inconsiderate center of power and those indifferent millions dwelling in comfortable highrises and bungalows. These names are new addresses of a nation’s awakening and every setting sun, over a day and over a life, a new milestone on this journey.




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