Protester defers wedding plans till farmers’ issues are resolved

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Komaldeep Singh Cheema, a popular masseur at the Singhu site, is a kabaddi player

The ongoing farmers’ protest has changed the course of several lives, including that of Komaldeep Singh Cheema, a 37-year-old kabaddi player who’s now a popular masseur at the Singhu border protest site. He has deferred his wedding indefinitely till the protest ends.

Mr. Cheema, son of a retired Army Subedar, told The Hindu that his wedding was scheduled for January 27 but he has decided not to go ahead with it till the farmers’ issues are resolved.

“About six months ago, I got engaged to a woman. It was arranged by our parents. In our village, men and women don’t talk or meet a lot till the wedding day, so we only spoke a few times,” he said.

On November 26, Mr. Cheema came to Singhu border and in the next few days, began a service he proudly calls “massage langar”. Mr. Cheema made headlines as the man who started this rather unusual langar service of giving massages, especially to the elderly with body pain issues.

“I had made up my mind. In December, I called and told the woman’s parents that I won’t marry till the protest is going on. I also told the woman that she shouldn’t wait for me and go ahead if she finds a better match. Of course, I apologised but this is something I couldn’t have ignored,” he said.

The woman’s family told him that the marriage can take place alongside the protests, but he had resolved to wait till the protest was over, Mr. Cheema said. “My family said that I can decide for myself. They didn’t interfere,” he said.

Even if the protest continues till 2024 — the election year — the marriage stands deferred, he said.

Mr. Cheema had started playing kabaddi when he was about 10 years old and continued to play in school and college in Jalandhar where he also played on a national level. In 2005, he went to England to play kabaddi from a Birmingham Club and played for them a few times. He stayed there for a few years.

“I also teach kids how to play, especially those from the economically weaker sections,” he said.

Mr. Cheema was the first one to install a 40-foot-tall Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag, at the Singhu protest site. He cleaned and re-installed on Tuesday after he returned from home.

The kabaddi player has gone home twice for over 10 days each to work on his fields and put fertilizer in the farms.

Earlier at the Singhu border on Wednesday, table fans were distributed for free and construction of extending makeshift hospital began. Repeated calls were also made from the main stage asking protesters to tell their near and dear ones to join the agitation.

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