Wheelchair-bound man reaches Singhu to celebrate farm law protest anniversary



NEW DELHI: Ratandeep cannot walk, talk, eat or even defecate without help, but he reached Singhu border on Friday in a wheelchair to participate in the celebrations to mark one year of the farmers protest against the central farm laws.

That he is happy could be gauged by his smile and the gestures he made to his mother, Harpreet Kaur, 45.

“He was a healthy child till he was four. Meningitis gave him permanent disabilities and changed the course of his life,” she said.

“We could have left him with his grandparents, but it would not have been the right thing to do. He cannot convey his feelings in words, but I know he is happy being part of the movement,” Kaur from Ludhiana said.

“Are you happy, puttar?” his father, Gurmeet Singh, asked immediately.

Ratandeep (25) looked at his mother, smiled and made a gesture that suggested he was excited.

The reason the family brought Ratandeep to the Singhu border was to inspire people to “fight for their collective rights despite all odds”.

“His limbs do not work, he cannot talk but he is still here. He has contributed to the cause. This will give him confidence and inspire others,” Kaur said.

This was the second time Ratandeep and his family were here after December 26 last year.

“We could not come often because of the problem he faces outdoors. It is tough when he has to urinate and defecate. There are no toilet for specially-abled people here,” Kaur said.

Punjabi and Haryanvi celebratory music filled in the air at the Singhu border protest site on Friday, as farmers danced atop their tractors bedecked with lights and posters and took out symbolic marches, to mark one year of the movement against the three farm laws the government is set to withdraw formally.

Farmers flaunting colourful turbans, sunshades, long beards and twirling moustaches danced on the roofs of tractors, distributed laddoos and hugged each other to mark the occasion that seemed like a festival.

Thousands of them flocked to the site over the last few days, buoyed by the government’s announcement to repeal the farms laws, to mark the completion of one year of a dogged protest that saw a long dusty patch of the Delhi-Karnal road between the national capital and Sonepat turning into a makeshift town with bamboo huts and all basic amenities one could think of.

Children and elderly, men and women, carried flags of their farmer unions and raised slogans of victory “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Majdoor Kisan Ekta Zindabad” amid passionate non-stop beating of drums.

The assembly area near the centrestage saw a large gathering like the early days of the protest.

The attendees included businessmen, professionals, lawyers, teachers, among others, belonging to families of farmers.

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