NEW DELHI: “I had mooli, aloo and gobhi paratha with achar (pickle) and tea for breakfast; dal, kadhi, chapati and rice for lunch; pakoras in the evening and roti-sabzi for dinner,” says Sahil who stays near Singhu Border at Shriram Colony.
The 10-year-old Class V student says he never had a full meal like this before. “My parents work as labourers. But due to lockdown, they lost their jobs. Having meals thrice a day is like dream for us. Even in school, I never took lunch.
"Mere pas to lunch box bhi nahi hai and daily kabhi doodh bhi nahi milta (I don’t even have a lunch box and I don’t get to have milk daily),” he says. The farmers’ protest is proving godsend for the homeless and children living in areas located around the Singhu border.
The kids wandering around the protest site are mostly from financially poor backgrounds. Some of them are rag pickers. Himanshi, a Class-III student of an MCD school, says she never had such an amazing and bellyful of food.
“They give us food, bananas, oranges, bottled water and sweets like jalebi and motichoor ladoo. In my house, we get to eat chapati and aloo or dal-chawal. Sweets are like a once-a-year add-on. But, here ‘farmer uncles’ give us unlimited paneer-pakoras. They say eat well and study well.”
‘We ch ildren are with the farmers; They give us food’
Himanshi’s mother works as a housemaid and his father is a labourer. Himanshi and four other children of her age live in a slum cluster near Singhu border and pick trash and discarded bottles as the schools are closed. The kids also help the farmers in distributing food and water to the protestors. They also sing and raise slogans along with them against the Centre.
“I don’t know the details of this protest, but it looks like Prime Minister Modi is not listening to them. We children are with the farmers. They give us food. The people where my mother works treat us badly, they don’t even give us water in a glass. But here these ‘sardar uncles’ feed us with lot of food, that too without any discrimination,” says 9-yearold Akash. A homeless woman said that during school, these children received midday meals. “Today they are neither getting food nor education.
We have been coming here every day for the last five days. Farmers give us extra food and fruits for our family members and neighbours,” she said. The agitating farmers are also feeding the passersby and travelers who are stuck on the road. “We were on our way to Delhi from Panipat but due to road closure, we could not go further. Our kids were very hungry.
So my husband stopped here to look for some shops. We were surprised when farmers gave us a dozen bananas, oranges, fruit juice, water bottles and biscuits. They also gave us freshly cooked paratha and chutney,” said Chandini, a mother of three kids. When asked about the roadblocks and protest, she said, “We are not angry over the road blockade.
We will walk a little bit and will get some transport to Delhi, but these farmers’ fight is serious and genuine. We support them in their protest.” Nearly 10,000 farmers with hundreds of trucks, trolleys have blocked the roads along the Singhu border demanding a repeal of the new agricultural laws.