Farmers’ agitation gives birth to viral songs of resistance from Punjab

As the farmers’ agitation continues against the Centre’s farm laws, several songs of resistance have gone viral, echoing all the way from Punjab to Delhi.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have braved water cannons and teargas to camp at the national capital’s borders to demand a rollback of the laws. Even as their representatives try to resolve the issue by holding talks with the government, protesters at the site continue to sing songs of resistance to keep the spirits high.

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Songs of resistance

These viral songs have been shared on various social media platforms like YouTube and WhatsApp. Several singers said it is also an assertion of their Punjabi identity that they say is deep-rooted and comes before caste and creed.

“This is a big issue for us. We are all connected with the soil,” said singer Kanwar Grewal, the voice behind the popular protest songs “Ailaan” and “Pecha” that support the farmers’ agitation, told news agency PTI.

Grewal is now planning a third song, titled “Jawani Zindabad” to highlight the participation of youth in the protest.

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Pecha, which has been written by Harf Cheema and sung by both Cheema and Grewal, has already got more than 30 lakh views on YouTube. The song speaks of the rift between Punjab and Delhi, and the Centre’s bad policies or ‘kaliya niti karde laagu’ rouses people to wake up.

The accompanying video has long shots of convoys of trucks and tractors blocking highways and men and women, young and old, shouting slogans and holding flags.

“The song is about common people fighting against the government for their rights. It is a democratic country. Everyone has the right to express their views. Farmers are protesting and we are using music as a tool,” Cheema told PTI.

Mass movement

Cheema went on to say that the protest has become a mass movement and it is not anymore just about the farmers. He says it is also about small shopkeepers from 18 states who have also joined the protests.

He estimated that 70-80 per cent of the songs have been composed and circulated in the last couple two to three months since the farmers have been protesting, even before the gathering at Delhi’s gateways. It may be noted that farmers from Punjab had been staging numerous protests, including ‘rail roko’ agitations.

“All this is for farmers who feed us day and night. This is all we can do for them,” said Cheema.

He has also penned and voiced the songs “Sarkare” and “Punjab” highlighting the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws.

“A brother of mine wrote the song and we started singing. It became a rage. We never thought we would come up with songs,” Grewal told news agency PTI.

Prominent singers voice farmers’ protest

Noted Punjab singer and actor Harbhajan Mann has also been supporting the farmers’ agitation for the past several months. He has also come out with a new song on Wednesday. He said the song, titled ‘Murrde ni laye bina haq, Dilliye’, is all about how farmers are resiliently protesting against the farm laws.

“It is a fight of their existence,” Mann said.

In the video, the song shows farmers braving water cannons and breaking police barriers as they pushed their way to Delhi. The Punjabi singer and actor, who had earlier attended the protest in Delhi, announced that he will not accept the Punjab government’s ‘Shiromani Punjabi Singer’ award as a sign of solidarity with the protesting farmers.

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“Though I’m grateful to be selected, I humbly cannot accept the Shiromani Gayak award from the Department of Language. People’s love is the biggest award of my career and all attention and efforts right now from us all must be dedicated to the peaceful farmers’ protest,” Mann said on Twitter. He has also come out with another song, titled ‘Anndatta, Khet Saadi Maa, Khet Saadi Pagg’ (fields are our mother, fields are our pride).

“When farmers are facing tough times, it is our responsibility to stand with them. Farmers feel that these laws are not in their favour. We should support them in their agitation,” said Mann.

Famous singer Jasbir Jassi, who is best known for his hit ‘Dil Le Gayee’, is happy that Punjabi artists are supporting the farmers’ cause. “Punjab ka jo jeevan hai emotional raha hai (Punjabis are known to be emotional). After a long time, Punjab is seen as Punjab. There is no Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or rich or poor. Everyone has come together, including the youth, who were earlier being accused of consuming drugs. The important thing is it has been a peaceful protest,” Jassi told the news agency.

“It is about the culture of Punjab and Sikhism that they are feeding those policemen who have lathis in their hands. Punjab is known for making sacrifices,” he added.

Punjabi musicians Sidhu Moosewala, Babbu Maan, Jass Bajwa, Himmat Sandu, R Nait and Anmol Gagan have also come up with songs to support the fighting spirit of Punjabis in songs such as ‘Jatta Takda Ho Ja”, “Asi Vaddange”, “Delhi Aa Punjab Nal Pange Thik Nahi” and “Kisaan vs Rajneeti”.

Not just Punjabi singers but actors, too, are voicing dissent against the Centre’s new agriculture laws in solidarity with farmers. Actor Manav Vij, who hails from Ferozpur in Punjab said he is saddened by the situation. “The country’s soldier is raising his hand against the country”s farmer. How did we arrive at a situation like this?” he questioned.

“The issue that our elders have come on the roads means something is wrong,” Vij added. Vij is best known for his performance in “Udta Punjab” and “Andhadhun”, told PTI.

Farm leaders thank Punjabi artists

The general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, has thanked Punjabi artists and singers for standing in solidarity against the Centre’s “black laws”.

“It is a historical fact that artists are very important for the success of any struggle. We hail the singers for standing with the farmers,” he said.

As the situation stands, the farmers have made it clear that they want the laws to be withdrawn, but the Centre is trying to talk with representatives of protesting farmers. The farmers, who fear that the new farm laws will dismantle the minimum support price system, have now called for a Bharat Bandh on Tuesday.

Also Read | How new farm laws can benefit growers in a friendly market

Also Watch | What can end the farmers’ strike?

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