Farmers Protests: How farm stir turned an expensive hobby into agitation mainstay

Over the last few years, Punjabi youth invited criticism for spending too much money on the moderation of the tractor trollies. But the farm protest has turned this fad or an expensive hobby for some into a symbol of fight for ones rights.

Modified trollies, which once started as a convenient travel-and camp mode of transport for religious festivals in Punjab, have been the backbone of farmers’ protest in Delhi. These ‘travelling homes’ not long ago invited criticism for Punjabi youth who would spend a fortune on turning them into luxury contraptions tagging behind tractors. But the farm protest has turned this fad or an expensive hobby for some into a symbol of fight for ones rights.

How it started

Tractor trollies have remained mode of transportation for village life in Punjab, especially during festivals.

Hola Mohalla in March and Fathegarh Sahib Jor Mela in December every year are mainly two major events when Sikh devotees start their journey on tractors-trollies from different parts of Punjab and parts of Haryana to reach Anandpur Sahib and Fathegarh Sahib, respectively to camp there for few days making their trollies a temporary shelter.

Both events last at least for a week where trollies turn into campers.

Over the last few years, Punjabi youth invited criticism for spending too much money on the moderation of the tractor trollies. These ‘luxury’ trollies would make headlines due to the facilities inside them including air conditioner, wifi system, expensive mattresses, TV screen, music system and many such added accessories.

Farm agitation makeover

As assembling a trolly has become part of the village life, so it was obvious that same practice come into play when farmers started for Delhi with aim to camp there for a long period of time.

These trollies faced water cannons and dug up roads on the way to Delhi. Going on and off road, trollies not only survived the difficult journey to Delhi, but these also become shelter for protesters during night.

Same was also true for the tractors. Youth were also criticised for buying high horsepower tractors. However, these were the tractors that came handy to remove heavy barricades installed by Haryana Police on the way to Delhi due to high horsepower of these tractors.

How trollies get stir-ready

Harpal Singh, a farmer from village Pandher, has assembled five trollies for his villagers. These trollies will participate in the January 26 parade announced by farmer unions. Mostly these trollies are assembled by farmers themselves. They go to a workshop only if some big alterations are required in the trolly.

“If trollies already have three to four feet side grills then we can alter a trolly in one day at home. Otherwise, we would need a welder,” said Harpal Singh. He also owns a welding machine to make small alterations required in trolly to bring some comfort into it for journey and for living,” said Harpal Singh.

Cost of alterations

A trolly which already has side grills may cost up to Rs 5,000 to convert it into a makeshift camper.

“You need to spend around Rs 1500 on tarpaulin to make it water and air proof. It is cold out there and even a small leak may create big trouble for commuters when trolly is moving as cold air would flow inside. So we install tarpaulin with proper care. Then we use paddy straw and mattresses to reduce the shock. Up to Rs 1000 is spent on electricity fittings inside trollies. We installed lights and power connections for mobile charging. Battery of tractor is used to supply the power in the trolly. These are the basic requirements. Otherwise, you can spend on whatever you want to make trolly more like a home,” said Harpal Singh, who is attached with Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee Punjab.

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