Ladders, tarpaulin, poles and ropes lay scattered at the Singhu border protest site on Friday as farmers dismantled tents, bundled up their belongings and loaded them onto trucks. They are ending a 15-month-old protest.
Tractors bedecked with colourful lights rolled out of the protest site blaring songs of victory. The elderly flaunted their colourful turbans and danced with the youngsters.
Ladders, tarpaulin, poles and ropes lay scattered at the once-buzzing protest site, while blankets, pillows, mattresses and chairs were neatly stacked on the roadside. Time and again, they chant ‘Bole So Nihaal’ to pump themselves up.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions, had on Thursday announced the suspension of the protest that began over a year ago to seek the repeal of the Centre’s farm laws.
Weeks after the government withdrew the contentious laws, the farmers will head home on Saturday morning. The young and elderly joined hands to dismantle the sturdy temporary structures they had erected on a long dusty stretch of the Delhi-Karnal road over the past year.
Jassa Singh, 69, a farmer from Punjab’s Faridkot said, “More men means it will be over quickly. We had ample time to build them, but we leave tomorrow. Hence, the haste… I have eaten a lot of ghee in my life. My muscles are as good as of a 30-year-old man.”
Harjot Singh from Punjab’s Barnala said people who had little luggage left for home on Thursday evening. “Some are leaving today. Those who built large structures and had more goods will depart tomorrow,” he said before breaking into a Punjabi song as tractors passed by.
The movement of tractors in large numbers led to a heavy traffic jam, similar to the initial days of the protest when protesters poured in from different states.
As the men bundled up the clothes and mattresses and swiftly loaded them onto the trucks, women prepared lunch. “The gas stoves and the utensils will be packed at last. We still have to cook dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast,” said Mai Kaur, 61, from Jalandhar in Punjab.
Cardboard, thermocol, iron wire mesh, PVC sheets and mosquito nets lay around the dismantled structures. The youngsters inspected the tractors, cleaned the trolleys in preparation for the journey back home.
They stopped to have lunch or tea or a snack and return to work. Some farmers even donated their belongings to the needy in nearby villages. “We have a lot of clothes and ration that could be of use to them. Earlier we were also feeding a lot of people from neighbouring areas,” said Surjeet Singh, 64, from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur.