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As harvesting season approaches, villagers tend to farmers’ crops as they protest at borders

"Women will be coming in large numbers to the dharna site on March 8 and later their number will be limited as they have to handle operations like milking, taking care of the labour doing harvesting, making/storing wheat straw etc", vice-president of BKU Dakaunda said.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: March 5, 2021 10:15:43 am
As harvesting season approaches, villagers tend to farmers’ crops as they protest at bordersFarmers of Sangatpura village at the Sangrur district of Punjab. (Express Photo by Raakhi Jagga)

JAGSEER SINGH Chhiniwal, a farmer leader from BKU Sidhupur, has been at the Singhu border since November 26. Back in his village Chhiniwal in Barnala, the villagers have ensure that his crops are well taken care of.

“I will go back after completing 100 days at least. I had sown wheat crop before coming to the borders and now it is being taken care by the villagers only. They send me pictures or videos of my fields on a regular basis. Harvesting is to happen near Baisakhi, but I don’t have to worry because they are there to take care of my crop and can handle harvesting as well.”

He added, “Every week, 17-18 people from our village go to borders out of more than 3,500 voters and harvesting operations are a matter of 2-3 weeks, so we can easily handle each other’s load, if anyone is at the border. Our 15-20 member village committee is also there to oversee so no one’s work suffers.”

Like Chhiniwal, meetings are happening in many villages of Punjab as how to handle harvesting operations ahead and also when many villagers will be heading to other states like UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha to operate combines in the fields of farmers of those states.

Manjeet Dhaner, vice-president of BKU Dakaunda, said, “I did a meeting with the farmers at Tikri border Wednesday afternoon where we discussed how they will be managing harvesting, procurement back in villages and even protest at borders. Women will be coming in large numbers to the dharna site on March 8 and later their number will be limited as they have to handle operations like milking, taking care of the labour doing harvesting, making/storing wheat straw etc. In joint families, women will come in turns but in nuclear families we will take this into consideration that works back home are also important.”

Dharampal Singh, president of BKU Ugrahan, Sangat block, in Bathinda, said, “In our block, we have decided that during harvesting time, a lot of elderly will be at the borders. Moreover, our village committees will take care of each other’s works as well. Wheat harvesting is not very labour intensive. It is more mechanical and later wheat straw is to be made and stored in houses as well. Our numbers at borders will not reduce, that is for sure.”

Young farmer Randeep Singh Sangatpura from Sangatpura village of Sangrur district said, “In our village we have decided that if a son is at the border, the father will be at home to manage harvesting and procurement or vice-versa.Otherwise, their relatives and the neighbourhood as well. Our old feeling of brotherhood is back in villages after decades all thanks to this movement wheat crop was handled in the entire season like this only. So now we take everything as a challenge and stay at protest sites in Punjab or at Delhi borders as well.”

There will be movement of villagers from every sector to earn their living. Even the farm labour from Punjab will be moving to Rajasthan for harvesting of green gram. “But rotation of 15 villagers at borders will keep on happening every week,” said Jagseer Singh Kothaguru, from Kothaguru village of Bathinda. He added, “As of now we are also busy with remodifications of our trolleys to make them equipped for the summer season.some funds are also being collected to these modifications as well.”

Meanwhile, during harvesting, trolleys will be needed in Punjab as well but again, pooling system will be followed so that some trolleys can stay back at borders as well.

“People themselves are volunteering their trolleys for collective harvesting/ procurement operations and also to be parked at borders.hence it will not be an issue at all.People are also donating funds per acre.and more will be done after harvesting as well,” said Dhaner.

“Our unity is our strength and this will handle harvesting operations in a seamless manner while protests continue,” he added.

According to Punjab’s agriculture department, a total of 35.05 lakh hectares under wheat crop will be harvested in April.

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