Published: 19th January 2021
Farmers' Protest: Meet the youngsters behind 'protest' newsletter Trolley Times that's keeping protestors lit
While the first two editions were on the protest and miscellaneous stories from the ground, the newsletter will now have a topic for every edition
At a time when every news organisation is planning to or is in the process of a shift to online news, the young protestors at the farmers' agitation on the borders of Delhi have gone back to print to talk about their struggle and keep the protestors enthused and informed.
Trolley Times, the bi-weekly tri-lingual newsletter which a group of young protestors from various backgrounds have come up with, talks about the protest through poems, stories, illustrations and photographs — all sourced from the people at the protest. The paper is printed and distributed to all six borders where the farmers are currently protesting. But you can also find the editions online and they encourage protestors in various parts of the world to download, print and distribute the paper. The paper which was initially just published in Punjabi has also reached various parts of the world and is now being published in Hindi and English as well.
Navkiran Natt, a 29-year-old Dentist who later followed her dream to study Film Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi, was among the few who started the initiative. But why work with print? Why not shoot videos that are hard-hitting and much easier to consume? "A large number of elderly had come for the protest. And to them, a newspaper is more appealing than a video. Videos also have a very short life just because of the sheer amount of posts on social media. Even if it goes viral it will trend only for a few hours or a few days. Once it is printed in a newspaper, it is documented. And people read it with more conviction," explained Navkiran.
Ajaypal Singh, Gurdeep Dhaliwal, Jasdeep Singh, Navkiran Natt, Mukesh Kulriya, Surmeet Mavi, Narinder Bhinder and Jassi Sangha — were the ones who started the Trolley Times and have been part of the protests from Day 1. "Over time we realised that a lot of people did not know what was going on at the forefront. There were connection issues and people were not aware of what was happening on the other borders as well. The narrative propagated by the mainstream media was also disruptive. At first, we thought that the resistance put up by the young protestors on social media will be enough but the negativity was hitting even the elders badly. We thought a newsletter could bridge the gap and talk about stories from the ground," said Navkiran.
While the first two editions were on the protest and miscellaneous stories from the ground, the newsletter will now have a topic for every edition — from women in the protest to youth participation. "We had an idea of the newsletter but he had help on the design from artist duo Thural and Tagra (Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra). They helped with the design and illustrations and we started selecting the stories and pictures that could go on the page. The first two editions we brought out had stories from the ground and news on what was happening at the heart of the protest. But we have started organising ourselves and now we have a topic or overarching theme for every edition," said Gurdeep who is a photographer and writer.
The newsletter came at a time when the mainstream media had been discussing the 'Khalistani angle', said activist and a farmer from Madhya Pradesh, Varun Chauhan who is helping the Trolley Times team with their social media. "The first edition had on one side the Left's vision of the movement and on the other side, it had an article from a pro-Khalistani writer. We wanted to put it side by side for people to find out for themselves whether the perspectives matched. The first two editions were like an open letter about the movement. The translations of the newsletter came in to reach out to the Hindi belt and the people abroad as well," he said. "Before this, the different sections of the society would not come together for a cause. The students did not know much about the farmers, the workers did not join the farmers' movement, but Modiji has united all these varied sections of the society (in a protest)," he added.