We spent the night in the SCRIA campus in Khori village, Rewari district, Haryana. It was a wonderfully-maintained campus, probably one of those very rare NGO campuses where order and discipline rules! It was a beautiful winter morning that we woke up to, pretty yellow fields of mustard greeting us in the morning mist. We were told that breakfast would be served at 9.15 am and believe it or not, we could set our clocks to the time when it was actually served, to the second! No plastic cups or plates in sight and it was a great relief! We had a quick round of discussions in the bus, using the public address system within the mike. Each Yatri shared with the others their 3 main “take-aways” from the entire Yatra – what did they learn, what did they find striking, what is the strongest impression that they are carrying right now and so on. It was a very efficient forty minutes in which this was done. A separate blog has to carry the gist of what was said during those forty minutes, of course.
We had a rally through the village where the local farmers joined us – they added their own slogan of “Jab tak kisan dukhi rahega, dharti par toofan rahega”. We then proceeded to a colorful meeting of around 800 persons. Order apparent here too, the way all the farmers were seated in lines, the way the little fluttering green flags of “Kisan Swaraj Yatra” were arranged, the way a local elderly farmer was the MC on the stage and so on.
There was one gentleman who got up in the middle of Kavitha’s sharing on what our key demands to the government are – he said that what is being said about water in the state of Punjab is not true and that there is still plenty of water; he also said that we are not emphasizing enough on the need to integrate livestock rearing and dairying into our agricultural livelihoods. Some amount of chaos reigned after he chose to bring up these points in the middle. However, it soon settled down again with many local farmers including some women farmers coming forward to share with the others why they felt the need to try out organic farming and what the experience has been so far. Mahendra ji of SCRIA explained in detail various technical details related to ecological farming and shared experiences from their exposure visit to Mr Deepak Suchde’s farm.
The women were very certain, unanimously so at that, that health was getting affected adversely by the toxic foods that they were consuming and that this needs to change. Nearly all hands in the audience shot up when asked how many would like to try out ecological farming in the next season.
After lunch, we moved to a village called Chowki No.2 (Jatusan block, Rewari district) where in the Gram Panchayat building there was a brief welcome to the yatris and a quick meeting. Before this, there was a big accident that got averted at the last moment when we were overtaking a truck. “Oh, on the very last day of the yatra!”, everyone groaned. The bus, when it skidded on newly laid slippery soil on the roadside, came to a grinding halt inches from a cement electricity pole, thanks to Ayub the driver being alert.
We then bade goodbye to the SCRIA team after the village meeting and ended up taking a longer route to Rohtak than the one suggested to us! We finally reached Rohtak nearly one hour later than scheduled. Here, the hall was decorated by posters made by students who took part in a competition that morning on the theme of : Indian farmers – today and tomorrow. There were elocution and essay writing competitions too. The prizes were given away by two yatris, who were farmers from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The crowd here was very mixed and somewhat challenging to interact with, in a sense….there were little children from Class 3 or 4, some young college students, some housewives, some medical doctors and so on.
There was also a Premchand play enacted in addition to some singing. Dinner of roti-subzi was packed and given to us to be eaten on our way to Delhi and it was apparent that it came from the kind hands of many women in different kitchens. It was delicious. We finally reached Rajghat at around 11.30 that night, intact and with no more mishaps. There was a loud cheer that went around the bus when Kiran Vissa, Ramoo and Suresh Deepala timed themselves perfectly when they joined the bus just outside the main gates of Gandhi Darshan. Our 70 days of Sabarmati to Rajghat, meeting thousands of Indians all along the way and striking a dialogue on our Food, Farmers and Freedom had come to an end!