One night, a few RSS workers came to California Village to beat up Dr. Swaiman. Soon the news spread. Before they could touch Dr. Swaiman, a large number of farmers rushed to his defense and the attackers ran away.
During first few days of the camp, a saint committed suicide, seeing the misery of the farmers. Many farmers died in camps, and some died on the road while coming and going to Delhi. By the end of the year almost 750 farmers had lost their lives. Neither Mr. Modi, nor any government representative said a single word of sympathy for those who lost their lives.
Many organizations like Khalsa provided aid, and Mr. Oberai’s organization helped the farmers. Local poor children would come to the camp for free food and they also started a school for them. Young girls felt safe in the neighborhood of the camps.
Nihang Singh also played a great role in all this. They provided protection to the camps when needed. One person joined their group and he insulted and destroyed the holy Granth Sahib. Nahangis caught him and beat him up. His arms were chopped off as a punishment. Then they surrendered to the police.
Finally on Guru Nanak’s Dev Ji’s Gurpurab (birthday), Mr. Modi went on television and announced that he will take back those laws. He did not call the farmers or call any meeting at that time, though he did later on. When the laws were taken back, farmers went back to their villages as winners. But some who came to the camps never went back. On the average there were two Deaths for every day of the protest.
Youth played a very active role in the protest. Youth leadership like Lakha Sidhana and Deep Sidhu and many others like them helped at every step. It was because of them they were able to overcome the hurdles along the way. Old leadership tainted Deep Sidhu’s name and he had to leave camp after 26 January and was arrested by police. A young girl from Haryana Poonam Pandit gave good replies to the media. There was a young boy 12-13 years old from Rajasthan, an excellent speaker.
Finally when they left, people missed them. There was an emotional farewell. It was success but also separation. People had fallen in love with each other. Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, all were eating and sitting together. Whatever supplies were left over they distributed those to the local people of Delhi. They were showered with flowers, one thing which is rare in India. Before the farmers left they cleaned the camp area and left it in better shape than when they got it. This was the biggest and longest protest in recent times. Hopefully, it will affect the future of Indian Politics for good.
Mr. Tikait arose as a good leader and he was awarded the 2021 ICON award of London. I saw on television when the farmers were going back. One farmer was dragging behind his tractor a big slab of cement which was used by Delhi police as a roadblock, as a souvenir. He said he would put this in his village as a memorial to this protest. That reminds me when Sikh won the Delhi throne, they were leaving for Punjab after making arrangements with the King of Delhi. They were told to take anything from the Red Fort, they did not choose any diamonds or pearls, but instead they pulled a big slab out of the Delhi throne and dragged it behind their horses all the way to Amritsar Sahib. That slab was put in the Golden Temple area, so that every visitor to Harimander Sahib walks over it, and it is still there in possession of the Sikhs.