AS farmers threaten a “tractor parade” to New Delhi on the occasion of Republic Day if their demands against the new agricultural laws are not met, joining them would be women from Haryana villages.
At several places across the state, women are receiving training to drive tractors, with one such session held for those belonging to Jind district, at Khatkar Toll Plaza on Jind-Patiala National Highway, on Monday.
Women have been present in large numbers at the protests being held by farmers at Delhi borders, now into their second month. By having women ride into the Capital on January 26 now, while riding tractors, a startling change for patriarchal Haryana, farm unions don’t just hope to attract eyeballs but also send a message that their families stand behind them in the agitation.
At the Khatkar Toll Plaza — the farmers have made all such tolls across Haryana “free” — the women are trained in everything from how to start a tractor and switch it off, before being handed the steering.
Sikkim Nain, from Safa Kheri village, said around hundred of them from the district have been attending the training sessions at the toll plaza, with similar preparations on across the state. “This is just a trailer for the government. We will take our tractors to the Red Fort to participate in the tractor parade. It will be a historical event,” said Nain, 38.
“Women power has joined the battlefield now. We are not going to retreat, don’t take us lightly. This is the second battle of Independence. If we don’t fight today, what would be our reply to future generations?” she added.
Introducing herself as “Khatkar gaon hai, Rajpal ki gharwali hun, Saroj naam hai (My village is Khatkar, my husband is Rajpala, and I am Saroj”, a 35-year-old said, “I am the daughter of a farmer. The government has already committed a lot of atrocities on farmers but we won’t tolerate this anymore.”
Vijender Sindhu, a farmer, said women were coming for training from Khatkar, Safa Kheri, Barsola and Pokri Kheri villages, among others. An elderly farmer, Satbir Pehlwal, admitted that letting the women take this step was a huge leap for them, but a natural one. “Our sons are fighting at the international borders while our men have gheraoed the national capital,” said Pehlwal, adding that they were determined to intensify their stir if their demands were not met.
Khap leader Azad Singh Palwan also drew the military parallel, saying the tractor parade by their women and men “will be like the one taken out by jawans (on Republic Day)”.
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