Camera: Athar Rather
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Production Assistant: Amulya Raj Srinet
Santokh Singh hasn’t gone back home to his village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran even for a day since he reached Singhu border on 27 November 2020.
Thrice a day, he gets on a call with his family, and once a week he tells his grandson that he will be home soon, as soon as he gets it in writing from the Prime Minister of India that the three farm laws have been repealed.
In the last one year, Santokh has fought a cruel winter, unseasonal rains, prickly summer, and several losses of friends and protesters. Nothing, however, has moved him away from a make-shift tent at the Singhu border, which he now calls “home”.
He is not the only one. The Quint met three protesters at Singhu border who have spent a whole year away from home.
For 32-year-old Sukhmani from Punjab’s Mohali, joining the protest at Singhu border meant quitting her job as an accountant.
“I was earning over Rs 15,000 a month. I don’t come from a farming background but when I watched the videos of farmers sleeping on the roads to get justice, I knew I had to be there with them. I had to do this seva.”Sukhmani
Sukhmani sings the gurbani on stage twice a day.
On 19 November 2021, when the PM announced that the three farm laws will be repealed, 85-year-old Nichhattar Singh, a farmer from a village in Ludhiana, went to Santokh’s hut for a cup of tea. “I do it every morning but suddenly that morning, I saw him dancing. So, I asked him what happened. He told me the good news, and then both of us danced,” said Nichattar, who has gone back home only for five days in the last one year.
At Singhu border, Nichattar gives massages to those who are tired or injured. He speaks to his wife and their two sons once a day. He is lovingly known as “Bapu” at the protest site. “Just because Modi announced that the laws are being repealed on national TV doesn’t mean we believe him. We will only go back when the laws are repealed in the Parliament,” he said.