(Afshan Jabeen, AIPWA activist who along with several other AIPWA comrades from Bihar spent a week at Delhi’s borders with the farmers, writes about her impressions of the movement.)
Lakhs of farmers from across the country are protesting on the borders of Delhi. The government has passed three farm laws which are against farmers’ and the country’s interests. Therefore huge numbers of farmers are sitting in protest and people from across the country are joining this struggle in support of the farmers' demands.
Along with my comrades from AIPWA I got the opportunity to be a part of this large scale and historic farmers' struggle in Delhi. This was my first experience of participating in such a huge movement and I was filled with happiness and pride at joining this movement.
I reached Tikri border on 18 January which was Mahila Kisan Diwas (Women Farmers' Day) and women were at the helm of affairs and managing everything. It seemed as if the numbers of the protesters equalled their unity, especially the unity of the women. On that day, men did not get much opportunity to speak from the dais, and this in a patriarchal society where men usually control everything. Women were freely expressing themselves on stage, some through revolutionary and progressive songs, some through speeches. A veritable sea of women was surging ahead at all the borders, Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. Even the groups who had come from far-off places to be part of this struggle had large numbers of women. There was an incredible energy and enthusiasm in all the women and they reminded me of the nationwide anti-CAA-NPR-NRC equal citizenship movement led by women. It occurred to me that maybe the women-led equal citizenship movement had inspired women farmers also.
At various places we could see women and men working shoulder to shoulder to prepare and serve food. Langar was being served at places just meters apart. Not only was food taken care of, all the borders had Shaheed Bhagat Singh libraries organised by Delhi students for wonderful reading material. I saw the amazing sight of all sections and ages of people immersed in reading, some in the library and some on their tractors. There are also medical camps set up at various places. As I was walking by one early morning, an elderly senior who was sitting on a tractor saw me and started raising the slogan, "Repeal the Black Farm Laws!" Slogans of "Modi Sarkar Murdabad!" (Down with the Modi Government) also echoed from place to place with such spirit and energy that I find difficult to describe in words.
There is a big difference in watching something on TV and seeing it actually unfold in front of one's own eyes. So much energy, and on such a large scale! The real world is something to be experienced directly and seen through our own eyes.