At the ‘chakka jam’ at PAP Chowk on February 6 was 63-year-old Manjit Singh — a retired Naik from the Army. Popularly known as ‘Baba Chimte Wala’, he was part of a group of over 50 ex-servicemen which participated in the protest in solidarity with farmers on February 6.
Dressed up in a spotless white kurta pyjama, he walked all the way to the protest site from basti areas to express solidarity with the farmers, even though he has no land of his own.
He had protesters hooked as he crooned: “Ni Kangana tu Singhu border te aa. Mawan saddiyan phulke pakavan, Tu vi aake do-chaar la”. His four brothers and father were all in the Army. Enamoured by Lt General Bikram Singh who is also called the Hero of Ladakh, Manjit Singh named one of his sons, Bikramjit Singh.
Manjit Singh says, “Faujian di andolan nu bahut support hai. Bahut fauji kisan ne. Je Modi araam di neend saunda aa – faujiyan karke hi saonda aa. Police fail hundi tan hari vardi vale fauji jawan hi control karde hai. Te eh kisana nu keh rahe ne atankvadi e vakhvadi e… Shaheed Kahuana saukha nahi – kurbani deni paindi hai. (If Modi sleeps peacefully, it’s because of the Army men. Many of them are farmers. When the police fail, they call the men in olive greens. We stand by farmers. But the Modi government calls farmers Khalistanis, terrorists and separatist. (It’s not easy to be called a martyr – you have to give sacrifices for it.)”
Hailing from Mallewal village in Hoshiarpur, he is a poet, singer and performer – he has performed with the likes of Babbu Mann, Kanwar Grewal and Ranjit Bawa. But for now he stands in solidarity with farmers. He has penned songs on farmers, Kangana Ranaut and the Red Fort fiasco.
He adds, “My father saw four wars in 1941, ’47, ’62 and ’65. He fought in World War I. One of my brothers saw three wars. My father retired as a subedar. My most difficult posting was at Nathu La in Sikkim. I was also posted at Tangdhar in Jammu and Kashmir. Ask us faujis, we know what the sacrifice means.”