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Volunteers polish shoes of farmers at Singhu border

By Kunal Dutt
January 11, 2021 17:43 IST
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In the spirit of community service, a group of volunteers from the Sisganj Gurudwara in Delhi's Chandni Chowk are offering to polish shoes of farmers protesting the Centre's new farm laws at Singhu border for free.

IMAGE: Farmers during their ongoing agitation against new farm laws. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

The sewadars, which also include a woman, sit on the ground and urge people to offer their 'jodas' (shoes) while they wait in front of their makeshift counter, on the Haryana side of the Singhu border, close to a tent where farmer leaders speak vociferously against the new farm laws, reiterating demands for repealing them.

 

In the last couple of days, these volunteers have burnished quite a few leather footwear, earning praise and "good karma".

Jaswinder Singh, 63, a businessman and resident of Old Delhi, sat in a corner, his hands covered in soot, while Gurbani played out on a portable speaker kept behind him.

"We do 'joda sewa' (shoe service) at Sisganj Gurudwara. And we thought why not go and help these farmers who have been sitting on a protest for over 40 days. Due to rains and dust, their shoes have become dirty and many are just walking in them. So, we are here," he said.

Next to him, sat Inderjit Singh, a 58-year-old businessman from Shahdara area, who hailed the farmers as "annadata" and "yodha".

"They provide us food by toiling in the fields in cold and rain and harsh sun. This is the least we can do for them. We are not getting our hands dirty by shining their shoes, we are getting their blessings," he said.

On Monday, it was yet another day of protest, with fiery speeches on stage, songs of resistance in the streets and and cries of 'Sadda Haq, Aithe Rakh' and 'Jo Bole So Nihal' pumping up the atmosphere in an inclement weather.

Jaswinder said, the service is free for others too, and not just for farmers.

"So, many people come to the protests site every day, belonging to different professions, and sometime a poor person will stand next to our counter, gingerly asking, how much to pay," he said.

"Please give your 'joda' (pair of shoes), and some 'dua', is all we ask," the businessman said.

Among the sewadars from the old Gurudwara in Delhi, is also a woman, who took shoes from people and polished the pair.

"She is Kiran ji, who offers services at the Sisganj Gurudwara too. She lives in Subhash Nagar. Our Sikh Gurus taught us to do sewa without any expectation and with no discrimination," said Amarjeet Singh, as he shined a shoe.

The 58-year-old says he owns a business of school bags in Paharganj area, but offering "sewa" gives the highest "sukoon".

"Money cannot give the joy and happiness and blessings, we earn from this service. Earning money should never be a factor for community service, just a good heart is all we need," he added. 

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Kunal Dutt
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