Farmers from Punjab and Haryana protesting against the Narendra Modi government's farm laws had to face heavy police and paramilitary deployment, water cannons, barricades and detentions in their march towards Delhi.
Despite the obstacles, many farmers continued to march on. Several images became representative of the resilience of the protesting farmers – from an elderly woman protester from Punjab marching on foot to two farmers braving water cannons on the road.
But an iconic video, featuring a young protester named Navdeep Singh, jumping on top of Varun – the water cannon-mounted vehicle – and turning the tap off, helping several protesting farmers who were being targeted by it, is doing the rounds on social media.
This incident is said to have taken place near Kurukshetra. In the video, Navdeep can be seen climbing on top of the water cannon truck, turning off the tap, and then jumping back on a tractor trolley.
‘Protesters’ Commitment Gave Me Courage’
Navdeep, a Sikh from Ambala district, is a graduate and was protesting along with farmers from over 250 villages.
"I was a studious child, never did these kind of things like climbing and jumping. But the bravery shown by protesters gave my courage," he told Punjabi Lok channel.
Narrating how he climbed on top of the truck, he said, "I climbed from a tractor trolley on to the truck and reached the tap. I turned it off, but a policeman had also climbed (on to the truck) chasing me. But by that time, my brother had brought his tractor near and I jumped on it.”
He says that the police did hit him on the feet with sticks but has no anger towards them.
“Police are only doing their job, they are also sons of farmers.”Navdeep Singh
"They are also sons of farmers, they are only doing their job so I can't find fault with them,[sic.]" he said in the interview.
Navdeep says that his father is also protesting and is part of a farmers' union.
Several people in Punjab are using the picture of Navdeep jumping on to the truck from the tractor as their display picture on Twitter and Facebook.
Navkiran Natt, an activist with the All India Students' Association from Punjab, wrote while posting Navdeep's picture: "This young protestor jumped on to the 'varun’, the water cannon, turned the tap off and jumped right back on to his trolley, during yesterday's protest at Punjab-Haryana border. Let's collectively turn off the flowing tap of atrocious acts of the government!"
Singer Resham Singh Anmol posted the video and called Navdeep "Babbar Sher", or a lion.
Navdeep says that the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are overwhelmingly against the new laws but hardly anyone turned up for BJP’s pro-farm law protests.