They have utilised the opportunity to sell their ‘inventions’ to make up for lockdown loss
Slumped on a stool amidst sacks of vegetables and a heap of peeled vegetables in front of him, passers-by could mistake Ramesh Kumar for someone peeling vegetable for a langar but on closer look, he is mesmerising people with his “invention”, a vegetable peeler that he sells for ₹10.
As farmers and visitors to the protest site at the Singhu border make their way from their trollies parked along the National Highway to the main stage, their walk is not only interrupted by various langars that have been set up offering food but also local vendors trying to sell their wares.
From power banks and speakers to clothes and dholaks, the vendors who usually frequent weekly bazaars across the Capital have made a beeline for the protest site hoping to make a profit. As Ramesh peels carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and onions with quick strokes, leaving those watching awed, he says that he has been selling his peeler called “fata fat” that he claims he invented 20 years ago. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, sales have dwindled but he hopes to do brisk business at the protest site.
A few feet away is Sonu who shows theatrics to make passers-by stop and take note of his innovative squeezer that can be used to make juice out of citrus fruits without having to cut them or leave a mess on the table. His gadget, priced at ₹20 has found many takers, which has come as a relief after the lockdown slump.
“I buy my stock from Sadar Bazaar and sell them across the city. I have been coming to the protest site for the past few days and have found more takers than anywhere else in the city,” he said.
A family that has travelled from Yamunanagar to show solidarity with the farmers after eating a meal of rice and dal at a langar says the innovative products add an interesting touch to the protest. “We have been coming here often to show solidarity. The last time we came here, we were treated to a popcorn langar and now we have seen some interesting products. For people to keep coming back to show solidarity, these are interesting changes,” says Harkeerat Kaur a visitor.
It is not only wandering vendors who are looking for a change of fortunes at the protest site but also those with permanent shops. Akhilesh, who has a sticker shop, says: “Earlier, we used to make stickers that said Jai Mata Di or other message stickers popularly stuck behind trucks. But now there have been no takers so we have started making and selling stickers related to the farmers’ protest.”
He says that he has made the designs using a software and sells them for a profit of ₹10 to ₹15. He keeps changing the designs so that farmers don’t get bored of his patterns.
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