March 9, 2021 2:28:23 am
With speeches and songs against the farm laws, thousands of women from Punjab and Haryana took the lead at the Tikri border on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Monday. While some came for the day, quite a few women said they would stay for longer while the men in their families head home for the harvest season.
Arriving on a bus from Punjab’s Jalandhar with 60 women a day earlier, Satvender Kaur (41) said: “We are not here only for Women’s Day, we are here for our rights.” She said her children are at home while her husband, who is in the police, is on duty in Ludhiana. She added that 12 more buses came from her district and they are here to stay. The women also brought with them 10 standing fans.
Baljeet Kaur (42), Satvender’s companion, said she and her husband are taking turns to be at the protest: “He has stayed for at least a month. Now, I am here while he takes care of the fields. When he comes, I will go back.” The couple have a daughter who is married, and a son who is abroad.
The two women belong to families that own around 2-2.5 acres of land. This is their first visit.
At one of the big langars at Tikri border, volunteers said they usually feed around 9,000 people a day but the figure on Monday more than doubled to 20,000. Meet Mann, general secretary of Jamindara Socialists Organisation (JSO) that runs the langar, said, “There are three big langars here. We had anticipated the numbers, so we had made preparations for extra food and beverages…”
A police officer also confirmed that the number of protesters nearly doubled: “It is difficult to estimate the number of protesters. But a huge number of women protesters have landed up for Women’s Day.”
While women took the stage, men offered them tea and water.
By afternoon, trucks ferrying women left the border. Sitting on a tractor with around 20 people was Nirmala Malik (45) from Rohtak. Her fourth visit since the protests started, she said she does not own any land and works on a farm: “The farm laws will affect me too as I will be paid even less for my labour. We are going back now, but we’ll come again soon.”
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