There are images, a section of the mainstream media shows, to suit a narrative they have decided to follow. Then there are those going viral on social media, again showing a point of view with a certain slant. And then there are images which take you beyond the headlines, and right into the eye of the storm, there is a sense of calm at the massive farmers’ protest now intensifying by the day, on the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders.
Home is where the revolution is: They have come from all over Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and those from other areas are expected to join. The sage-like expressions of wizened old farmers, and the updated tent-kits of the younger generation, meet, almost like a big family gathering at the border of the National Capital. All gathered together, in a peaceful demonstration of protest against laws they fear will harm their future as both farmers and as equal citizens. At night, they rest, mostly in trolleys that have turned into mobile homes. It is bitter cold in Delhi at the moment, but the solidarity that the farmers’ revolution has generated across society warms the heart.
Soul food: Donations of ingredients, fuel, utensils, labour, all come together to create food that nourishes the body and soul. These kitchens run all day, feeding anyone who is hungry, a hot nourishing meal. There is no discrimination, no questions asked, no money charged. Farmers are the food providers for all. Meanwhile the trolls froth at the mouth over the many langars serving all kinds of food, free of cost, not just to the protestors, but also to those visiting, labourers from nearby fields in Haryana, the homeless who the system has ignored, passersby, everyone is offered food with love and respect. All the food comes from gurudwaras, citizens make donations of raw material, water; many volunteer time and effort to cook, serve, and clean up. Even the security forces deployed on duty to keep an eye, and when ordered ‘control’ the farmers are offered food and water. There is hay for the Nihang’s horses too. Each day scores of ordinary citizens, moved by the resilience show solidarity and come quietly to donate milk, grains, vegetables, water, hygiene kits, warm clothes, sanitary napkins.
No Farmer No Food: The message is simple. As someone at the protest had famously said: “You cannot download a roti from the internet.” The farmers are firm on their demand. The laws they deem unjust must be repealed. The state has so far not heard them. The police deployment, and road barriers seem to be waiting further orders.
*About the photojournalist: Vijay Pandey is an Independent photojournalist based in New Delhi. He was associated with Vice.com, Outlook Magazine, Tehelka Magazine etc. His work has been published in several national and international publications.