Artists’ day out at Tikri border in support of farmers’ protest

The government should start to apply itself as a verb rather than a noun: Rabbi Shergill

Politics

January 9, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Delhi’s decrepit Tikri border acquired a touch of art and glamour on Saturday as over a dozen artists came to support thousands of farmers who have been protesting there for nearly 45 days now. The artists praised farmers for their exemplary peaceful protest and blasted government for ignoring the protestors and their demands.

“The government is being government. The day it starts to govern, the day it starts to apply itself as a verb rather than a noun, I think we will see a lot of changes. Because you look at it, it’s just not performing when you walk around here you see what a hellhole it is. My hope is that the way we fought this one, maybe we can talk of a whole bunch of other issues, may be poverty in general,” noted singer and musician Rabbi Shergill tells Media India Group.

Shergill, along with nearly a dozen other renowned artists, turned up Delhi’s Tikri border on Saturday afternoon to express support for the tens of thousands of farmers who have been protesting against the new farm laws for the past 50 days on various borders of the national capital as well as across the nation.

In his address to the gathering, Shergill said that the protestors needed to be saluted as they had, through their unique and peaceful manner of  patient protest had regenerated the sense of community and togetherness in the country which had been torn asunder in the last few years by divisions in the name of caste, religion or language. “The biggest achievement of the protest is that all of you have been sitting patiently here out in the open, in the cold. I am shocked how stone-hearted the people sitting in their centrally heated rooms have become that they don’t notice the protest and neither have they expressed any regret or sent even a single message of condolence for the 70-odd people who have died during the protest,” Shergill told the gathering. Later, he regaled the farmers with one of his most well-known numbers, Tere bin.

Rabbi Shergill addressing the farmers at Tikri border (MIG photos/Varsha Singh)

Another noted personality at the gathering was noted Bollywood actress-turned activist Swara Bhasker. “I am here to apologise to you all on behalf of our country that has become so stone hearted so as not to feel the pain and difficulties that all of you have been facing ever since you began your protest here. I would also like to apologise on behalf of a government that chooses to ignore such a large protest, just so it can cater to the interests of the big business,” Bhasker said in an acerbic barb aimed at Narendra Modi government for the way it has handled the ongoing protests against the three farm laws that were rammed through the Parliament.

Bhasker said that the farmers were not only fighting for their rights, but more crucially were fighting for the every single Indian as everyone was connected to farming through the food that they survived on. “But I am ashamed that we have become such a society, such a country where people, instead of respecting the elderly and serving them, we have obliged them to come out on the streets in protest and to spend their days and nights out in the open in this extremely cold winter. We have become so shameless as a society and a country that instead of feeling your pain, we believe that you don’t even understand what is good for you,” Bhasker told the gathering.

Later on, Bhasker told Media India Group that she was glad to see that so many artists from Punjab and other parts of the country supported the farmers’ cause. “Art has a very big role in spreading the message of any protest or any social issue. In this protest, too, artists have been involved in spreading the word of the protest to various parts of the world and this strengthens the movement and gives it the recognition that it deserves,” says Bhasker.

“And as far as my colleagues from Bollywood are concerned, I have requested them that if they cannot speak out in favour of the protest, at least they should just remain quiet and not say anything at all,” says Bhasker. On the protest’s fate, she said she was certain that the farmers would win the battle against the big business and go back home peacefully when their demands had been met.

A farmer enjoying himself during the performance of Harbhajan Mann (MIG photos/Varsha Singh)

Another star present on the occasion was noted Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann, who sang a specially-penned emotionally motivating song, created in the honour of the protest, Eh Mudade Nahin Bina Haq Dilliye (They will not return without taking what is their right).

Mann said that the farmers had raised the bar for staging peaceful protest and that it was getting international attention, even though the pro-government media (Godi media) in India had been trying to malign them ever since the protests began. “Sometime ago, there was talk of a protest in the United States, Black Lives Matter, which was supposed to have attracted global attention. However, within days that protest resulted in violence and it is with immense pride that I see how you have been protesting in a peaceful and patient manner for several months. I am certain that the victory shall be yours very soon,” Mann told the gathering.

Canadian singer of Indian-origin, Jazzy B or Jaswinder Singh Bains, also turned up at the show. He, too, talked of how the protest had garnered interest all over the world and that even global leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already expressed full support for the farmers’ movement.

Darshan Singh (extreme left) is one of the 15 farmers on a day-long hunger strike (MIG photos/Varsha Singh)

Sharing the stage with the artists were 15 farmers who were on a day-long fast in protest against government’s inaction. One of them was Darshan Singh, a farmer in his 60s, hailing from Barnala in Punjab. Singh has been here at Tikri since November 25 and remains confident of a victory of the farmers over the government. “We have come here with one objective. To win. And we will go back only after we win. The government has not conceded our demand because it does not want to to be seen to be losing, but they will lose to us,” Singh tells Media India Group, with the same grit and determination which has become the hallmark of the farmers’ protest.

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