Back home, Punjab farmers adding sweetness to protest

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Chandigarh, Dec 5 (IANS) The sweet fragrance of gur or jaggery fills the air in fields across Punjab these days with wood-fired stills continuously working to make it ‘immunity’ booster for protesting farmers who have set up vast camps for over a week to mark their protest at the borders of the national capital against new farm laws they say will destroy livelihoods.

Besides jaggery, scores of women and children, preferred to stay back in Punjab, are adding sweetness to the protest by their brethren bitter over the farm laws.

Every early morning they are assembling voluntarily in gurdwaras and community places for making a traditional Punjabi sumptuous sweet, ‘desi ghee pinnis’, for the farmers braving chilly nights on the border.

Even the aid is pouring from across the sea. Two US-based NRIs, popularly known as Tut brothers, have sent 30 quintals of almonds for them.

“We have so far dispatched five tonnes of ‘gur’ especially made for the protesting farmers stationed on the Delhi border,” local farmer Lal Singh, who sets up a still in his fields on the outskirts of Jalandhar town, told IANS.

He said he’s getting gallons of sugarcane juice daily collected from nearby villages and they are making it extra nutritious by adding a lot of nuts and dried fruits like almonds and species.

“The sugarcane, dried fruits, species and fuel wood are contributed voluntarily by the villagers,” Singh said.

“By profession we are farmers, not ‘gur’ sellers. Our brothers and sisters have been stationed on the border to fight a battle to save our livelihoods. Back home, it is our duty to take care of them,” another farmer Rajbir Singh said.

He said a tractor-trailer loaded with ‘gur’ is sent to Delhi borders once in two days through village young volunteers.

Like this special one, scores of ‘gur’-making units, run by volunteers, have come up across Punjab.

Likewise, a group of local women and children assemble in a gurdwara at Nauli village of Jalandhar to roll sumptuous ‘pinnis’ for the protesting farmers.

“Our village young men have been tasked to maintain the supply line with the protesting farmers. These ‘pinnis’ are not only for the farmers but also served to the security men stationed there,” remarked octogenarian Sarbajit Kaur.

She said all ingredients are voluntarily offered by the local villagers.

Added Nachattar Singh: “We have another team of men and women stationed along with our protesting brothers and sisters to cook and serve ‘kheer’ daily along with the ‘langar’. For the ‘kheer’, the milk is being provided free by our brothers and sisters from Haryana.”

A group of volunteers have been serving almonds among the farmers along the Singhu border.

“We came with five quintals of almonds and 10 quintals of ‘gur’ yesterday. After distributing this lot, another lot will be dispatched accordingly,” Paramvir Singh said.

While serving a palm full of almonds and a cake of ‘gur’ to a Rapid Action Force (RAF) man, he told IANS these almonds have been sent by California-based Tut brothers through their cousins based in Jalandhar.

“Jaggery is one of the best natural cleansing agents for our body. In this polluted Delhi, it efficiently cleans our respiratory tract, lungs and the stomach,” remarked Ajmer Singh, a protesting farmer from Ropar district.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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