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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

At the helm of protests in Punjab: A farmer’s daughter, a security guard’s daughter, a class IX dropout

"Revolution in our blood," say daughters of Punjab

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: September 25, 2020 10:34:16 pm
farmer protests, farmer protests Punjab, Haryana farmer protests, Karnataka farmer protests, farm bills, India news, Indian ExpressFarmers shout anti-government slogans as they march during a protest in Amritsar, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo)

DRESSED IN a green kurta and white pajama, 20-year-old Sumandeep Kaur, the daughter of marginal farmer, has been visiting several villages, where she addresses gatherings and discusses the Centre’s farm Bills, raising the slogan: Es dharti di hiq te inqlaab uthda hai..itihas badal janda hai jadon Punjab uthda hai… (Revolution takes birth from this land, history changes when Punjab wakes up).”

A resident of Sauhar village in Barnala, Sumandeep says she started going to morchas with her father Kewal Singh when she was just 5 years old. Now a final year undergraduate student of mass communication, she spoke at the Mehal Kalan, Chhaba, Raikot and many other villages of Barnala Friday. She addressed dharnas of BKU(Dakaunda)

“I study at Punjabi University Patiala and live in the hostel. But I had been home past few months due to coronavirus. I understand the farm Bills. When we have no issues with ahrtiyas, what is the issue of the government to end them? But they are not ending them, they are replacing them with contract farming companies, hence the middleman will always be there,” she says.

Neelkamal, 20, is a final year student at GNDU Amritsar. She is single-handedly organising programmes at five villages for the first time, while her activist father covered other villages. “We belong to Thikriwal. Freedom fighter Sewa Singh Thikriwal belongs to this historic village, hence revolution is in our blood,” she says.

Neelkamal’s father Yadwinder Singh Thikriwal said, “I work as a security guard at the civil hospital, Barnala on a contract basis and am connected with the Inqlabi Manch, where I do plays. I also sing in these plays. Hence, my daughter was raised in that environment, so she is connected with these issues.”

Neelkamal says, “We don’t have any land for farming but I am aware that the farmers’ economy is linked with small shopkeepers. The country is in unrest mode…first by demonetisation, later due to GST, NRC and now farm Bills when the pandemic is on. Hence I feel the need to share my views with farmers who have never been to college. A number of farmers did not even complete their matriculation. Hence, we the youth need to take the lead.” She led morchas in six villages independently and managed the stage as well.

‘Farm Bills will severely affect women’

Amandeep Kaur Deol, general secretary of the Istri Jagriti Manch, is a 33-year-old postgraduate. She has a 3-year-old daughter who also accompanied her to the dharnas. While she addressed hundreds of farmers on roads of Patiala’s Nabha, her daughter was taken care of by other activists. Deol gave up her PhD course to work for women’s issues. “My father is a a farmer and I am very familiar with their issues. My husband and I are social activists. Farm Bills aim to bring private companies in the market and gradually the farmer’s income will go down. This will affect the condition of women in the house as families will have no money to educate their daughters. There has been some change after farmers started sending their daughters to schools and colleges. Hence, we need to object to these kale kanoon (black laws),” she says.

‘I may be a school dropout, but I understand democracy’

18-year-old Harmnajot Kaur, a class IX dropout from Akalia village of Mansa district, stood for hours in the morcha, holding high a flag of BKU (Dakaunda). “I am not yet going on stage, but I want to speak from the dais. Hence, I stand in the front rows, listen to the speakers. I do farming with my ailing parents. Farming is in my blood and when it comes to farmers’ issues, I am leading from the front,” she says.

Her mother Kuldeep Kaur says they have only three kanal land on which they grow wheat and paddy. “Modi needs to hear us, we don’t like these Bills. Farmers are on roads. Isn’t it enough for him to understand that we need to be listened to?” she asks.

Young Harmanjot says, “Though I am a class IX dropout, I understand democracy and our PM also needs to understand the same.”

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