Tents go empty at Singhu as worry grips protestors
Most of the tents on the highway were empty, though vehicle movement seemed unaffected.
Some farmer leaders were on stage addressing those gathered, but the crowd was a fraction of that seen in the earlier days.
The killing on Friday morning at the protest site has stunned the nation and forced farmers’ unions to distance themselves from the Nihang Sikhs, an order of Sikh “warriors”. “The incident has put a dent on the image of Punjab. Till now people used to believe that people of Punjab are people with a large heart and help everyone in need,” Satbir Singh, general secretary of Kirti Kisan Union, said from the stage. “This was barbaric, and we all condemn it in the strongest words. We have brought the movement in the last one year to a level that now the government is worried. There have been attempts to derail the movement in the past too by the government.”
The attack on the labourer has not just stung the farmers’ protest against the government’s contentious farm laws, but also raised questions as to why Lakhbir Singh, the deceased, received no medical aid despite there being a health checkup counter– Khalsa Aid–nearby. There are ambulances at the site, too.
But Singh was neither given medical aid nor was he taken to hospital. Farmers claim that he was dead by the time they got to know of the attack. The tents of Nihang Sikhs are on the right side of the stage, much ahead of the farmers’ tents.
“They say they are supporting us, but we didn’t ask them to support us,” Harmesh Singh Dhesi of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) told ET. “They are saying that the person has been punished for sacrilege, but there is no proof.”
The farmer unions and the Nihang Sikhs share a complex relationship at the Singhu border protest site, where the former have always disapproved of the Nihangs’ way of taking things in their hands.
“On January 26, too, our plan was to start at 10 and stick to the ring road. They moved early in the morning with a plan to reach Red Fort” Satbir Singh told ET.
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