Bangla Sahib, the shrine connected with Guru Har Kishan – the eighth Sikh guru, has no prejudice for a pilgrim or a protester.
The country mourns the deaths of various farmers who have died because they could not longer afford to live. We know that many farmers from Tamil Nadu are protesting at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi. While they are fighting for various demands including loan waiver, there is a Gurudwara that provides them with ‘daily langar’ and does not discriminate between a protester and a pilgrim.
Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is located near the Jantar Mantar. Jantar Mantar is at the heart of the capital Delhi and has very often been the place where history has been written.
Bangla Sahib had also supported the Anna movement – the longest protest of ‘India Against Corruption’ which lasted for 9 months from April to December 2011. That was a busy time for the Bangla Sahib.
The farmers from Tamil Nadu have been protesting at the Jantar Mantar for over three months now. There was a recent controversy where the MLAs in Tamil Nadu had been given a hike while their farmers striked at Jantar Mantar endlessly.
Manjit Singh GK who is the President of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSMC) said to NDTV, “There were protests happening almost everyday. Thousands would come to eat from the protests, in addition to the usual crowd that we get. I am very proud of the cooks that they managed to hold their own and serve everybody who came. Service is above everything else for us.”
When the protest between the drought hit poor farmers and the government was going on, it was the Bangla Sahib which provided all the basic amenities to the farmers. Delivering food from their ‘Langar’ to the farmers is a regular thing.
Tamil Nadu has witnessed the worst farmer crisis in the last 140 years. The state had 60 percent of deficit in the rainfall. The farmers are fighting for a loan waiver, a drought relief package and some other demands.
Hundreds of farmers are protesting at Jantar Mantar and live in a tent constructed in a lane leading to Jantar Mantar.
The Gurudwara is serving food twice a day to the farmers. There were language barriers but after a few days the volunteers realised farmers preferred rice more over roti – a conventional preference of people belonging to Southern India.
The sole purpose of the Gurudwara is only to make sure no one goes hungry from their shrine, it is open for everyone and anytime. The Gurudwara feeds around 8,000 people in a day. The cooks don’t get a spare minute and it is due to their dedication that many helpless people find help. On Sundays, the volunteers go up to 200 a day.
Bangla Sahib has all the basic facilities, rooms and dormitories on rent at a very nominal cost. Even for people who cannot afford to spend ?100 a day. They have also managed to accommodate 10,000 people at one time in the past.
The protesting farmers of Tamil Nadu have pointed out that the Bangla Sahib was their only helper and saviour, when there was a shortage of public toilets.
Lakhbir Singh who is in charge of the cleaning the toilets said to News 18, “I had a team of eight people here. We work in shift of ten hours and I supervise the work. Apart from the toilets, we have a bathing area upstairs. It is for everyone to use.”
The Gurudwara has only one aim, that is to serve help to everyone who is in need, they never had and have anything to do with protests, their work is only to help. They are the ‘knights in shining armours’.