TWENTY-SEVEN years old Randeep Singh Sangatpura from Sangrur’s Sangatpura village was among 200-odd youngsters who had come to join the farmers protest in Lehragaga village. Randeep, a private school teacher who also does farming with his father on their 5 acre land, is in search of a government job. After addressing the protesters at the dharna site, he said: “Most of the boys who joined the protest with me were unemployed. They are in search of jobs and family’s farming is somehow saving them. So, we all have a reason to come on the roads as the government is not providing jobs, the private sector is taking away jobs and if agriculture income also goes out of our hands, unrest among youngsters will increase further.”
Randeep himself is in search of a government job and often takes part in protests by unemployed B.Ed teachers association representing those who have also cleared teacher eligibility test (TET).
Another young protester from village Tarkhanwala, Yudhjeet Singh (30), also addressed farmers in Bathinda. He said: “I did my masters in English and did a private job for some time, but I was being paid Rs 5,000 a month which is less than even a domestic help’s monthly salary. Now, I am unemployed and I lead dharnas of unemployed teachers. I addressed the farmers in Bathinda city’s Ghaniya chowk.” In Talwandi Sabo, it was 37-year-old unemployed youth, Tajinder Singh Mannawal from Mannawal village of Bathinda spoke about his reasons of supporting the farmers’ stir. He said that he was surviving on farming income from seven acres of land where they grow vegetables, wheat/paddy.
Among the speakers at another protest site in Maur Mandi was Rajvir Mann (31), who works as a private school teacher.
He said,”Cotton and maize too have MSPs, but a large stock is sold below MSP every year. Hence, we don’t agree to the Agriculture Minister’s assurance on MSP and mandi procurement. This will reduce and vanish gradually. We who study to get jobs will be economically affected if farming income takes a hit.”
Advocate Gurlabh Singh Mahal in Mansa was present at protests at many locations as he is a social activist as well.
Talking to The Indian Express, Mahal said, “I was shocked to see youngsters thronging in large numbers on roads on bikes, buses, jeeps and even by foot. Youth is frustrated and one slogan which I heard from all of them was ‘Modi Murdabad’. They are not finding any future prospect in Punjab. Farm land was a security for them to get a ticket to move abroad and now they are upset about this 360 degree change brought by Modi government.”
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan , general secretary of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), said: “Earlier, elderly people used to be seen sitting in dharnas along with few women, but now women, youngsters and even minors come in dharnas. Punjab is a land of revolutions, we have already dared to stand against injustice….people are coming to the dharnas on their own as they are fed up with political parties and false promises.”
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