Surinder from Mohali feeds dough balls to the roti making machine. The machine delivers 600 rotis an hour. The power for the machine comes from the lines passing along the highway. A few days back the officials came to remove their power supply, but the locals didn’t let them. They have now extended the wires to all trolleys, kitchens and lit up the open areas with halogen lights. Their colony has grown roots.
Their colony and their langar is right in front of a fairly famous highway dhaba – Rasoi. The owner is losing a business of many lacs a month but has opened the facilities for the protesting farmers. The langar runs from early morning to late evening. The hour I spend there with Surinder, the rows of the langar are full to capacity. Along with the protesting farmers, locals working around the area, poor from nearby shanties, travelers passing through, visitors, all partake of the langar.
Supplies? Surinder says after initial few days they haven’t had to touch their rations. Villagers from the region have taken over the supply. Someone brings wood, someone delivers dry ration, someone delivers vegetables or fruits, someone delivers milk and lassi, someone brings water tankers. Everyone in the region is contributing and supporting.
‘You should try the lassi they bring, it is the best.’ Before I say my byes to him a tempo with drums of lassi drives in. Tau with the tempo is from a village few miles away from the highway. ‘The whole village contributes. We bring a tempo of milk and lassi every day.’ How long will they continue? ‘As long as it takes.’ They fill a tub with lassi and drive to the next langar. I get a glass of it. Indeed, the best.
Surinder points me to a table laden with bread. Three days back some locals came with truck full of bread. They have been serving bread pakoras with tea for few hours every morning last two days and the bread will last them another two. I see similar piles of bread at few other langars, voluntarily and anonymously offered.
I am sitting with Balwinder Singh ji from Fatehgarh, a few kilometers from where Surinder has set camp. ‘We haven’t even touched the atta we brought.’ Just to prove the point, at that very moment a young Harayanvi approaches with folded hands, ‘Sardarji aatta laye hain’. Balwinder ji tells him that they have plenty for the moment. The young man insists, ‘please take one bag.’ Balwinder ji shows him the stock. The young man reluctantly moves towards the tempo laden with aata with a promise ‘fir aayenge’ and heads to next langar. Balwinder ji says -‘It is unprecedented, they thought that they could bring the Sutluj Yamuna Link issue and divide Punjab and Haryana. The region has shown that there are some links older and much stronger.’
Ever since a Punjabi baba answered a reporter’s Hindi query with, ‘Modi ko to mookiyon naal kutega jake,’ he and his commandment has gone viral. And Harayanvi pugilists have joined these Punjabi pehalwans with fervor. The differences that borders created or were meant to create have been erased for this moment.
Surinder says, ‘living in Mohali, he moves through Panchkula, Chandigarh and Mohali every day.’ For him these state borders have never existed. For the moment Punjab Haryana stand together Baaee Baaee, as brothers, once again.