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Saturday, November 28, 2020

‘We come to dharna to protect our father’s farm land’

Juggling school work on the side, children lend their voices to kisan morchas in Punjab; step out on stage to motivate protesters

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | November 13, 2020 3:33:34 am
(Left to right) Class 7 students Gurbir Kaur and Gagandeep Kaur sit outside Barnala railway station in a dharna

THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD KHUSHMEET Kaur regularly attends kisan morchas at her village Mehal Kalan in Punjab’s Barnala district. On November 10, the Class VII student recited a poem at a protest at the Mehal Kalan toll plaza: “Anndata kehlan wala bhukha marda hai.vikdi nahi fasal vajib keemat te hai…taan hi taan oh atamhatya karda hai.(the provider of food sleeps hungry, his crop is not sold at a good rate.this is the reason that he is committing suicide).”

On November 11, Gurbir Kaur, 13, of Karamgarh was seen on stage outside the Barnala railway station as he raised slogans against the Centre and state governments: “Haq de layi larde lok.jailan tau nahi darde log (people fight for their rights, they don’t fear going to jail).”

Meanwhile, at Karamgarh village, Gagandeep Kaur, another Class VII student from Karamgarh village also raised slogans on stage. Swanpreet Kaur, Gurbir’s cousin said, “Assi dharne te bapu di jameena di rakhi layi aandian haan. (We come to dharna to protect our father’s agriculture land).”

In Punjab, dharnas against the Centre’s farm laws are going on at more than 100 locations. Several school children are attending farmer agitations on a daily basis, addressing thousands from stage while juggling their online education. Gurbir Kaur said, “We have been going to morchas since October 1. Once a week, we don’t go, and on that day, we complete our assignments. We also do our learning and reading in the evening, after returning from morchas or while sitting on a trolley as we go to or return from morchas.”

Gurbir’s mother Balwinder Kaur said, “She goes to tuition in the evening. We are a family of four brothers and every day, 5-6 persons from our family go to morchas. So the children go as well. Apart from Gurbir and Swanpreet Kaur, even our sons aged 14 and 8 years go off and on. But Gurbir and Swanpreet are active on stage as well. “

Swanpreet Kaur said, “I am a farmer’s daughter and hence, we have known about farming techniques since early childhood. I am a shy child in school, but here, I go to the stage often, shout slogans, and sit in front rows while also doing my studies.”

Swanpreet studies in class 7 in a private school while Gurbir studies in a government school in the village. Gurbir said, “At times, I visit school to clear doubts and get my copies checked.”

Women and children are becoming part of dharnas across the state. Apart from college students, even middle school students are fearlessly stepping on stage. “We have got many new speakers in these morchas, many women who had never ever spoken on mic are leading dharnas while college students are regularly going to dharna and now school students are also becoming vocal. These are mass movements in which each and every person is joining,” said activist Narian Dutt from Barnala, while speaking to The Indian Express.

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