With tens and thousands of Punjab farmers protesting in Delhi, women back home have not only been taking charge of the fields, but protest morchas too that are currently on at 100 places in the state.
Women protesters have been going to these dharnas at over 100 places in Punjab daily from 11am to 3 pm.
“We wind up our household work and even take part in the morcha so as to keep the struggle going. We have asked men in our families to stay in Delhi. We are here to guard the fields and even to sit in dharnas,” said Karamjit Kaur from Moga village.
On Monday, on the call given by Sanyukt Kisan Morcha of India, farmers organised dharnas outside DC offices across Punjab, and women led these dharnas at several places.
Apart from DC offices, dharnas were organised at several other locations in each district by different farm outfits. All these protests saw huge participation of women.
In Barnala, Surveer Kaur, a PhD student who got married on November 7, wrote slogans for women as they marched in protest towards the DC’s office on Monday.
“Surveer was not part of Monday’s dharna outside DC office. However, she had gone to Delhi morcha days after she got married in November. She writes slogans ‘boliyan ‘ for women,” said her mother-in-law, Karmaljeet Kaur, who was leading the dharna in Barnala. Surveer, a member of BKU (Ugrahan) had gone to the Delhi Morcha soon after her wedding and returned on November 25, pointed out Kamaljeet as she addressed protesters at grain market Barnala.
The protest at the grain market was led by women and even the one at the parking of railway station, Barnala, had a large presence of women, including schoolgirls who addressed the gathering and raised slogans.
In Sangrur, the protests saw more than 10,000 women in attendance, claimed a woman leader of BKU (Ugrahan), Harinder Kaur Bindu. Outside the Bathinda DC office, the entire road was taken over by women protesters associated with BKU (Ugrahan).
Harpreet Kaur Jethuke, the main speaker at Bathinda dharna, said, “Our dharnas outside the malls, petrol pumps of corporate houses, toll plazas are also having participation of 300-400 women at each place apart from men. After Delhi Chalo, our responsibility is more in the state and hence we are taking charge of all dharnas.”
Balbir Kaur, advocate at Mansa, who is also woman leader of BKU (Dakaunda), said, “Many girls went to Delhi and they are becoming part of the dharnas in Punjab as well.”
Rajwinder Kaur, who is in her mid-twenties and hails from Khiyala village, said, “I went to Tikri border where I cooked langar for farmers and felt that as I am also from a village and my father is a farmer. So, it is my duty to be part of this dharna though I am a lawyer now.”
Harsimran Kaur, who is almost the same age as Rajwinder and is a lawyer, said that she came back from Delhi on Saturday after staying there for 3 days at Bahadurgarh. Harsimran also protested against farm laws in Mansa on Monday. She hails from Samao village of Mansa and her family is into farming.
She said,”It hardly matters whether you are an advocate, teacher or a rural woman engaged fully with farming, it is a movement of every house now.”
In Ludhiana, women from nearby villages and even from urban areas staged protests outside the DC office along with men. Amarjit Kaur, a retired teacher and now a BKU (Dakaunda) leader said, “I feel surprised when girls less than 15 years all of a sudden stand up from among the crowd and start raising slogans.”
Harinder Kaur Bindu, from BKU (Ugrahan) said,”This movement has given us many new speakers. Many women in their sixties and teenagers, who were shy to speak in public, spoke from the stage. Women today took out marches from bazars in 14 districts of Punjab.”
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “Shahkot is our new unit where people joined during movement against farm laws only and to our surprise, over 5,000 women took part here as well.”
On December 16, hundreds of farmer suicide victim families will be moving to various borders of Punjab to share how debt, increasing input costs are resulting in suicides of farmers, said Kokrikalan.
During the ongoing movement, over 40,000 women have enrolled with BKU (Ugrahan), while rest of the 30 farmers unions too have seen a significant spike in participation of women from each district.
Women wings of farmer unions like BKU (Ugrahan), BKU (Dakaunda), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Krantikari Kisan Union and others have also started working in an active manner during this protest.