Farmers’ stir: Octogenarian who inspired others to stay put at Delhi’s Singhu border for whole year


Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Defying police deployment, barricades and water cannons,  thousands of farmers entered the national capital on November 26 last year and began their protests against the Centre’s farm laws. In the last 12 months, several of them left the protest site to be with their families or to get back to work. Most of them joined the protests in alternate batches.

However, there are a few octogenarians who did not leave the place even for a second. They have been at the protest site for 365 days with full spirit and enthusiasm. Winter, summer, rains, COVID and opposition from the establishment, nothing deterred them.

Nishtar Singh Grewal (86)

He survived lathi charge, heat and cold waves and even had a bout of COVID during which he was on oxygen. But this old man from Ludhiana did not leave the site even for a day to see his wife and children. Rather, he had become a popular figure for the massage service he provided to fellow farmers.

“I was 85 when I came here and now I have turned 86. I am not out! In the last year, I saw the worst of days. There was no toilet and water, but I did not lose hope and spirit. Me and my son travelled daily to Kurukshetra to get milk to make tea for the farmers. Later, youngsters from Haryana and Punjab came forward and helped us. Many left and came back after two or six months but I decided that I will not leave this place until the government repeals the farms laws,” says Nishtar, who owns 1.6 acres where he grows rice and wheat.

Gurdev Singh (70)

He is also staying put at Singhu border since the first day of protests. Breaking into tears, he said, “It (repealing laws) is a victory for us, especially for farmers who have small pieces of land. For a full year, it was a war for us. They called us Khalistani, Pakistani terrorists, Naxalites. Did not see that our sons and daughters are fighting for the nation at the borders.”

Gurdev is moved by the warmth of the locals. “Watching our sacrifice, residents and shopkeepers came forward to help. But actors like Kangana Ranaut should be punished for saying that Sikhs should be crushed under the shoes like mosquitoes. We are citizens of this country and true Indians,” said the man from Jalandhar. 

Sadhu Singh Kacharwal (63) 

His tractor was the first to enter the national capital. He also got injured in laathi charge. “I am still here and so is my tractor.  We turned it into a room by covering it with sheets. We struggled for one year without meeting our family and children. It is good that Modi finally realised that farmers are fighting for the right cause. But there are other demands. Until all these demands are met, our protest will continue,”said Kacharwal.

Thousands of farmers crowd Delhi borders

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on Friday gathered in large numbers at the three Delhi border points of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri to mark one year of protests. Farmer unions said the day will be remembered forever in history as one of the greatest moments of people’s struggle.

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