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Shubkarman Singh's 'murder': With black flags in hand, protesters flood Punjab streets

By Harsh Thakor* 
Spirit of vengeance is simmering at a boiling point, with Punjab farmers appear determined to bring the killers to the book. Hundreds of enraged and grief-torn people -- women, men and even children -- with black ribbons hung tied and black flags in hand flooded  Punjab streets observing ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ to protest the death of young farmer Shubhkarman Singh on February 21 at the Khanauri borders during the ongoing Dilli Chalo agitation. 
In addition, residents planted black flags atop their houses and on vehicles as a symbol of protest. The protest call was given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM).
 “Revolution is in our blood. Demanding our legitimate rights is our right. If the government suppresses us by using force, we need to raise our voices. We are not part of the dharna at Shambhu and Khanauri, but that doesn’t mean we will not raise our voices against the atrocities of Haryana. Farmers at Shambhu said the social media handles of more than 170 people had been blocked by the Centre. This is the death of democracy,” Manjit Kaur from Khiddikalan village, Barnala, who burnt effigies along with other women, reportedly said.
Jatinder Kaur Chahal, another protester, said, “They (the government) need to test our DNA… our history…how resilient, we are as a community. If you resist, we will persist." Chahal and her husband Harcharan, a state committee member of the Association of Federation of Democratic Rights (AFDR), participated in the protest.
Writer and social activist Sushil Dosanjh planted a black flag atop his house in Taran Taran Friday morning, while many teenagers participated in the protest in Jagraon, Fazilka and Sangrur. Waheguru Singh of Barnala hoisted a black flag all alone outside his house, while Kanwaljit Singh of Jagraon said, “Bahut rosh hai man vich (we have so much anger in our minds)”. Saudagar Singh from Ghudani village in Ludhiana said, “Gussa vi hai, dukh vi hai…jwan bacha maar ditta (there is anger as well as grief… they killed our young child).”
Women in Kishangarh village of Mansa burnt effigies of several leaders and raised slogans against the Haryana government and the Centre. BKU (Ugrahan) members burnt effigies at 47 locations in 17 districts of Punjab, including Maur, Bathinda, Sunam, Sangrur, Moga and many other locations.
Central trade unions had also given a call to observe ‘Black Day’ along with the SKM. In Ludhiana, CTUs and SKM members protested jointly near the mini-secretariat. Led by CPI leaders Dr Arun Mitra and DP Maur, protesters holding black flags and wearing black ribbons burnt effigies.
Meanwhile, the SKM backed the Punjab government’s decision to provide compensation of Rs 1 crore and a job to a family member of 21-year-old Shubhkaran Singh, a resident of Balloh village in Bathinda district, who died allegedly in a clash with security personnel at the Punjab-Haryana Khanauri border.
 Darshan Pal, SKM National Coordination Committee (NCC) member said, “The stand taken by the family of Shubhkaran and farmer organisations needs to be appreciated. The Punjab government needs to act fast as youngsters are getting killed on its territory.”
Pal added, “SKM reiterates its demand of registering an FIR under IPC section 302 (punishment for murder) against the people responsible for state repression and death of the farmers, and a judicial inquiry by a Supreme Court judge into the firing and damages caused to tractors.”
Meanwhile, deadlock between the farmer unions and the Punjab government has continued. According to the farmer unions, there was no response from the Punjab government even on Saturday. “The family as well as the unions have demanded registration of FIR with murder charges against the persons who gave orders to open fire on the protesting farmers at the Khanauri border and without that, they will not cremate the body.”
A day after suspending the ‘Dilli Chalo’ march till February 29, protesting farmers relentlessly waged a battle at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu and Khanauri borders. They staged a candle march on Saturday evening. The march will be sustained  till the next course of action is decided on February 29, confirmed farmer union leaders Sarwan Singh Pandher and Jagjit Singh Dallewal in a press conference at Khanauri border.
Punjab Chief Secretary Anurag Verma wrote to his Haryana counterpart Sanjeev Kaushal seeking custody of Pritpal Singh, a farmer who is undergoing treatment in PGI Rohtak in Haryana after getting injured in the farm agitation. “You are requested to hand over Sh. Pritpal Singh to Punjab authorities so that his treatment may get done in Punjab, free of cost by the Punjab government. If any other agitating farmer from Punjab is under treatment from Haryana, he should also be handed over to us.”
Farmers participating in the 'Delhi Chalo' call will not withdraw their agitation until their demands are met, stated farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher . This conveyed that their agitation will not be withdrawn even after the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls is implemented.
Thousands of farmers have been resiliently sitting   at Khanauri and Shambhu points on Punjab's border with Haryana along with their tractor-trolleys and trucks after their march to the national capital to press the Centre for various demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, was disrupted  by security forces.
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*Freelance journalist

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