Ballads of protest: Haryanvi artistes pen, sing songs for agitating farmers in streets

Kunal Dutt
·3-min read

New Delhi, Dec 22 (PTI) A corner of the farmers protest site at the Tikri border on the Haryana side reverberates every day with strains of folk music and songs whose lyrics tell tales of struggle and resistance.

A makeshift performance pavilion has come up in a small space on a blocked national highway where a group of Haryanvi singers are belting numbers to keep the spirit of protesters high.

For Ramdiya Kot, a local folk artiste from Hisar, crooning at the protest site has become a routine affair for the last 10 days.

On Monday evening, he sang the old Haryanvi song 'Kissan' written by Jaat Meher Singh, whom he counts as his inspiration.

As he took the stage under the printed white canopy, musicians played 'gadhwa' (earthen pots) with 'patta' (leather piece) and other native instruments.

'Art and music plays a big role in any movement. We artistes from Haryana stand in solidarity with farmers. We are also children of farmers. We all are, they feed this country. And today, they have to sit on dharna in their own country. The government should listen to them,' said Ramdiya, in his 40s.

As he performed on ground, a diary with songs handwritten lay on the mattress below, while a group of farmers smoked hookah in one corner and another group listened intently.

'Jaat Meher Singh, when he wrote songs against oppression by 'zamindars' (landlords), he also had presaged that in the future, farm lands would be taken away by other exploiters. His lyrics inspire us and through our singing, we want to keep inspiring the protesting farmers,' he told PTI.

Farmers have been agitating at Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi-Haryana since November 26 in biting cold and these folk singers also hope the powerful words of the songs will warm up these peasants.

Pardeep Dalal, one of the organisers of this street performance, said, the 'Dalal Khap from Bahadurgarh tehsil of Jhajjhar district, to which we all belong to, has extended its support to the agitating farmers'.

'Artistes have been performing here since the beginning of protests. They take turns to sing. Sitting at one place, a human mind becomes dull so they also entertain the farmers and enlighten people,' he said.

Amit and Joginder Kaushik brothers, in their 30s, have been performing at the Tikri border under the umbrella of Dalal Khap for the last several days.

'Art is not just for art's sake, an art and an artist must feel the pulse of the nation and its people and articulate their pains too. We feel our art is a service to our farmers, to whom we owe our food,' said Amit Kaushik.

At the Tikri border area, it was yet another day of protest since the agitation began. Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel kept a strict vigil as farmer leaders vociferously reiterated their demands of repealing of all the new farm laws, alleging 'it was to benefit the big corporate companies'.

Amid the milling crowd, many youth carried posters bearing images of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and chanted 'Jo Bole So Nihal' to enthuse protesters in biting Delhi cold.

Mahendra Pandit, 37, a folk singer from Charkhi Dadri, sings songs of valour and patriotism at the protest site.

Singer Ramdiya said he was so 'moved' by the protests that he wrote a song for the farmers, which talks about many contemporary issues, agri-crisis and even the Swaminathan Commission.

'We also sing songs written by THE mother of Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries,' he said. PTI KND KJ