By Sukant Deepak
Chandigarh, Jan 14 (SocialNews.XYZ) Against the backdrop of a sulking gray sky tormented by cold winds in the heart of Chandigarh -- Sector 17, Lohri was about songs of resistance, hand made posters, speeches on the newly introduced farm laws, street theatre groups exhorting people to 'wake up', little children dressed up in traditional Punjabi attire, old union leaders and leftists smiling; and people across age-groups putting the farm bills in the waiting fire. There was cheer, exuberance even as serious policemen looked on.
Organised by students from Panjab University (PU) -- both former and those still studying there, the Lohri event was held as a symbolic gesture of standing with the protesting farmers at the Singhu and Tikri borders.
While PU's first-ever woman president Kanupriya brought forth multiple viewpoints of various experts, farmer union representatives and lawyers on the new bills, the presence of the urban dweller was striking. Sociologist Manjeet Singh, a former faculty member at PU, who has been active in different movements for the past 50 years, told IANS, "There is a deep-rooted sense to rebel against injustice in this region, that peculiar streak to take the fight head-on. Look around, interestingly, the elite are also marking their presence."
Dismissing claims by several television channels that the protests are being led by leftists, Singh added, "That's always an easy argument to make. Moreover, take the example of any uprising, each one has always been touched by different political, cultural and social leanings.
I have been regularly visiting the protest sites and what strikes me most is the fact that they have emerged as equal spaces where there is no play of religion, caste and region. That in itself is a big achievement. People across classes and economic strata are contributing so generously, that's the Punjabi romance of being part of a just fight."
However, for theatre actor Samuel John, active in street theatre for decades now, and also a part of the ongoing agitation, the absence of Dalits and landless labourers is something that cannot be ignored. "It is the landowning class which is in the forefront. It seems that the landless has been completely left out. The labourers have the same complaints against landlords which the latter have against corporates."
Actor Gul Panag, who also spoke on the occasion stressed -- "those who protest should not be viewed as anti-nationals. This protest, in many ways, will shape our future."