As farmers end stir, poor worry about food and lodging
Thirteen-year-old Aryan was worried about his next meal on Saturday as the farmers ended their protest on Delhi’s borders and wound up their langars.
Aryan, a slum dweller from Kundli near the Singhu border, and many others used to get food from the free community kitchens set up by the protesting farmers. Many of the local homeless slept in the tents the farmers had pitched during the yearlong protest.
On Saturday morning, a large number of children and local poor had their last breakfast at the langars.
“We used to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the langars. Now, we have to cook on our own or look for other options,” Aryan told PTI.
The slum-dwelling families mostly work at factories or warehouses.
Some of the farmers said they too had developed a bond with the local children who used to come to the protest site.
“These children became part of our protest as they used to come here for food. They reminded me of my grandsons,” Satwant Singh from Mohali said.
“It was good to have them here. The Almighty will take care of them now.”
Monu Kushwaha, 38, a homeless man who had been staying in the farmers’ tents for the past one year was worried too.
Kushwaha, who is from Supaul in Bihar, said that before the farmers came to the Singhu border, he used to sleep on the pavement.
“During the farmers’ agitation, I used to sleep in one of their tents and eat at the langars. All of that will stop now and I shall have to go back to the pavements again,” Kushwaha rued.
Mausam, 8, a resident of the slums located near the KFC tower in Kundli, said he had enjoyed good and plentiful food for the past one year, thanks to the langars.
“My father works in a factory but since the family is big, we often have to skip one meal. But for the past one year, we used to have plenty of food at the langars. We used to get it packed for home as well. All this will stop now,” Mausam said.
The farmers’ presence benefited the poor children in other ways too, for instance, by making it easier to cross the highway – once an unnerving task because of the fast traffic and wide lanes.
“My school is on the other side of the highway. Ever since the farmers came here, I faced no problem crossing the road because there was no traffic. I used to have food here and then go to school. It’s sad that they are going back,” said Tarun, 11, whose father works in a showroom.