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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Born out of stir: young firebrands in Haryana

Before the farmer agitation, Rajli was busy highlighting the issues of youths and Dalits, while running a library named after Munshi Prem Chand in his native village of Rajli (Hisar).

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Fatehabad |
Updated: November 20, 2021 1:28:27 pm
Sardanand Rajli, a dalit youth, who is leading agitator farmers of 58 villages in Hisar. (Express photo)

A Dalit youth activist Sardanand Rajli, 36, is leading the farmers of 58 villages of Hisar district at Baddo Patti toll plaza for past eleven months. Rajli is among several local farmer leaders who have emerged during the farmer agitation against the three laws in Haryana.

Before the farmer agitation, Rajli was busy highlighting the issues of youths and Dalits, while running a library named after Munshi Prem Chand in his native village of Rajli (Hisar). When the farmers’ agitation started in November 2020, he started participating in many activities. Recalling his nomination to the head of the toll plaza committee formed to supervise a dharna there, Rajli said, “Villagers chose me because I was always available for their events and knew its seriousness despite the fact that my family doesn’t own any agricultural land. I campaigned about how the laws will adversely affect the poor and Dalits.”

Rajli was among the local farmer leaders who were booked by the police under 11 sections of the IPC – including 307 (attempt to murder) – in connection to the May 16 clash at Hisar. On May 16, several farmers and police personnel had been injured during a protest near a venue where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had gone to inaugurate a Covid hospital. The police had later withdrawn the FIR, after facing a massive protest by the farmers.

Likewise, before this agitation, a local farmer leader, Mandeep Nathwan, had committees of his farmer outfit Kisan Sanghrash Samiti only in a few villages of Fatehabad district. But now Nathwan has active committees in three districts – Fatehabad, Hisar and Sirsa – apart from small teams of volunteers in a few other districts too.

Another example is that of Gurjant Singh. After sustaining injuries during the Karnal police lathicharge on August 28, Gurjant, 23, was admitted to Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College in Karnal and claimed to have lost vision in one of his eyes. A few days later, he was discharged from the hospital but soon Gurjant became a face of the farmers’ agitation in the district, participating in all the events.

Likewise, Azad Palwa and Sikkim Nain in Jind and Annu Sura in Hisar have emerged as the new faces among farmer leaders in their respective areas. In Hisar, Reeman Nain, 24, is at the forefront, lifting the spirits of protesters with poems and slogans.

Reeman, who hails from Khedar village (Hisar), is pursuing her post-graduation in Hindi from Kurukshetra University. She had earlier told The Indian Express: “I have a deep interest in poetry since my school days. When I was in Class VIII, I used to join a programme of Rohtak Radio Station through the phone to share my poems. When I was in Class XII, I started going to the Rohtak Radio Station and Hisar Doordarshan as I had a passion for poetry.”  The poetess recalls she was adjudged best athlete and secured the gold medal when she completed the course of junior teacher from a private college in her village in 2018-20.

Reeman said, “I decided to join the farmers’ agitation to raise their voice when I learnt that the three farm laws will adversely affect them. I started educating women about three farm laws, which in turn saw increased attendance at the toll plaza. I believe that the farm agitation has given a chance to the women to come out from their homes in large numbers and interact with their male counterparts..”

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