Photo of Young Protestor Turning off Water Canon at Farmer's Protest Becomes Viral Symbol of Resistance

Raka Mukherjee
·4-min read

We may have reached the "Uncle, please sit" moment of Indian democracy.

From anti-CAA to LGBTQ, the younger generation of India are the leaders of change and at the helm of protests, and this appeared no different for India's farm protests on Thursday.

Protests rocked several states on Friday as farmers and political parties took to the streets to oppose the three agricultural marketing Bills passed by the Parliament earlier this week. Farmers in several parts of the country raised slogans, took out processions, and blocked roads and railway lines as part of the Bharat bandh call given by a number of unions to voice dissent against the Bills perceived as "anti-farmer".

In Punjab, the day-long protests by farmers evoked a huge response and normal life was disrupted. Over 30 organisations had given a separate Punjab bandh call, leading to farmers blocking roads and traders shutting shops and vegetable markets for the day. The bandh in the state appeared to be near total. However, Chandigarh remained the least affected.

Reports of shutdown of shops and other establishments were received from Patiala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and other cities. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded that all of Punjab be declared a 'principal market yard' for agricultural produce to ensure laws based on the three Bills do not apply.

In neighbouring Haryana, farmers blocked the Karnal-Meerut, Rohtak-Jhajjar and Delhi-Hisar and other roads.

Hundreds of farmers were stopped at Delhi's border with Uttar Pradesh as they tried to press ahead into the national capital, their agitation disrupting traffic in Noida and Ghaziabad. Stopped from entering the city, the farmers staged 'panchayats' at the road blockades where they were addressed by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) office-bearers.

Farmers also blocked the Ayodhya-Lucknow highway and Delhi-Meerut highway for a few hours on Friday. Protests were also reported from the UP districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Pilibhit, Sambhal, Sitapur, Baghpat and Barabanki.

A video and photos of one particular clash, however, went viral on social media: Of a young protestor jumping and climbing onto a police car, to turn off the water canon which was being blasted at the farmers.

As the police reaches out to him after he turns off the water-canon, he jumps his way out, mirroring something out of a movie.

The visual is being treated as almost as proof of the strength of farmers, who despite the tear gas and the biting cold of water canons, still marched forward.

From social media, the place of the video is located as near Kurukshetra, where there were barricades to stop the farmers.

The young protestor has been identified as Navdeep Singh, a Sikh from Ambala district, who 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, reports The Quint.

"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 adds, detailing his movements which were captured on camera.

He mentions that the police 'hit him on the feet with sticks,' but he doesn't have anger against them, as "They too, are the sons of farmers."

Throughout the day people witnessed stark images of protesting farmers being held back by the police with the help of water cannons and teargas. While most of the clashes between the administration and the farmers were reported from areas around Haryana and Punjab, few disputed the claim that the protests were confined to just these two states alone.

Farm leaders and trade union leaders on Thursday said that the protests will not end here.