It is a fog-enveloped ruthless January winter morning, and she is smiling. A courier just arrived for her. Below her name, the address reads — ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh Library, Tikri Morcha, metro pillar – 783, Bhadurgarh’.
“It seems this is a permanent address now. I am getting so many mails and couriers at this address,” said Navkiran Natt, founder member of Shaheed Bhagat Singh library at Tikri and curator of ‘Trolley Talkies’, a film screening initiative that runs a daily evening shows at a dedicated tent that doubles up as a night shelter for the protesters.
Also the co-founder of Trolley Times, 29-year-old Natt, a qualified dentist who finished her Master’s degree in Film Studies from Ambedkar University this year has been actively participating in different social movements in Punjab for several years now.
For someone, who along with the team of AISA also helped set up libraries at the Shahjahanpur, Singhu and Gazipur protest sites, and has been part of the farmers’ agitation ever since it started, ‘correct’ communication and documentation are key areas that she is working on. “Much of our focus has been on communications on social media — countering the narratives set by the government through its vast network of paid trolls. Ensuring active social media participation from the protesters have been effective. We continue to put a lot of emphasis on communication. ‘Trolley Times’ has become an essential tool in the archiving of the voices from within the protest. We have been receiving contributions from protestors in forms of images as well as text.”
Although active in the social sector for years now, Natt said that this is the biggest movement she has seen in my life and creative strategies from within the protests have quite unique and inspiring. “From the trolley becoming the icon of the protest to rapid adaptations of the spaces that resulted in creation of multiple makeshift cities, this movement has been remarkable on multiple levels.”
She also feels that the huge number of youngsters and women joining the agitation makes it starkly different from farmers’ protests of yesteryears. “And the young people are looking for newer ways or forms of protests and are coming up with very innovative ideas.”
Believing that this movement is going to be a defining moment for the coming generations in both politics and art, across regions, Natt asserted, “It has already succeeded in instilling a deeper faith in political process within a democracy. For a vast majority of first-time agitators, protests will never be a taboo but a celebration of democratic values.”
Talking about collaborations with artists that this protest is witnessing, Natt added, “Several young artists with whom I have had an opportunity to work with have strong feelings about the limitations in already existing structures and institutions of art.The recent wave of sustained and long-term sit-in and live-in protests have presented them with the opportunity to engage with protestors in new spaces.”