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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Women on hunger strike at Tikri: A widow, an NREGA worker, a marginal farmer protesting

Gurmeet Kaur, 60, whose husband died by suicide about 20 years ago, has less than an acre of land for farming purposes. "I am almost landless. I can feel the pain of lakhs of farmers. Hence, I am here to stay hungry for them," she says.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | December 25, 2020 9:57:43 am
farmers protests, women go on hunger strike against farm laws, tikri border protests, farm laws 2020, ludhiana city news, indian expressWomen farmers sit on day-long hunger strike at Tikri border on Thursday. (Express Photo)

Following the call of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) Thursday, five women farmers of Punjab sat on a 12-hour hunger strike at Tikri border under the banner of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan). Even in Punjab, 10 women sat on hunger strike in Mehal Kalan constituency of Barnala district under the banner of BKU (Dakaunda).

A chain hunger strike has been going on since December 22 as per the call of SKM.

Of the five women who arrived at Tikri border, four were from Kussa village of Punjab’s Moga district while the fifth one was from Hamidi village of Barnala.

‘In a farming family, every woman is a farmer’

Shinder Kaur, 50, from Kussa village, said, “My family has five acres of land where we grow wheat and paddy. In a farming family, every woman is a farmer as the entire family works. So I am also a farmer, as is my husband. This is the reason I am doing a hunger strike to lodge our protest.” Kaur lives with her mother-in-law, husband and two sons. “This is all what we have. I have two sons and we are a marginal farming family. My elder son lives with me and the younger one has gone to the USA . So I have all the reasons to feel concerned about the future of my sons,” she added.

‘I can feel the pain of farmers, here to stay hungry for them’

Next to her was Gurmeet Kaur, 60, whose husband died by suicide about 20 years ago. Her only daughter is married. She lives with her sister’s family and has less than an acre of land for farming purposes. She said, “My husband died by suicide years ago due to debt. I am almost landless. I can feel the pain of lakhs of farmers. Hence, I am here to stay hungry for them.” She is also from Kussa village.

‘Debt, increasing input costs and now these black laws’

51-year-old Jasbir Kaur’s husband, son and daughter-in-law are in the village. “We have only two acres of land. My daughter is in Canada but my son lives with me. What can a family eat with two acres of land? Debt, increasing input costs were already a worry for us and now these black laws have added our troubles. We have been protesting since June and are in Delhi for a month now…don’t know when government will listen to us.”

‘We send our sons to Army to serve nation and they call us terrorists’

Karamjeet Kaur (45), from the same village, said, “When protest at Delhi borders started, we were labelled as Khalistanis and terrorists. I am a daily wager in NREGA, my son has been in the Army for the past three years. We send our sons to the Army to serve the nation and they call us terrorists, it had hurt us a lot initially but now I think that a few people have just lost their vision to see the things from a right perspective, otherwise they would have listened to us long ago.” Karamjeet’s husband and daughter are in the village.

‘Kale kanoon are a death warrant for us’

Naseeb Kaur (58) is also sitting on hunger strike at the Tikri border. “I am in charge of the women wing of BKU Ugrahan at Hamidi village in Barnala district. I came here on the December 3 and did not go back after that. Our family has two acres of land which we have given on lease as we cannot afford a tractor and other equipment to do farming. I have two cattle at home and I supply milk to the cooperative society of the village. This is how we earn our living.”

Her one son lives in England while another lives with her in the village.

“Kale kanoon are a death warrant for us. I have been protesting in Punjab as well since June. Earlier I used to go daily to Sanghera petrol pump where I used to give speeches as well. Now I am at Tikri border. Hope our PM listens to us. It has been long that we have not been to our homes. We have been on roads since mid-September. So many people are against these laws, so why can’t the PM see all this? In a democracy, the voice of the majority should be listened to always.”

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