“Mere 2 bete kab ki BA kar chuke hain... par dono khali baithe hain...(two of my sons are graduates but both are unemployed and sitting at home),” said Santro Devi, when she was asked why is she participating in the Jat agitation in Rohtak’s Jassia village. “Who will give me ‘bahus’ (daughter-in-laws) if they keep sitting like that?” she questioned.
As the Jat community started fresh agitation for reservation from 28 January, women have been thronging the dharna sites in good numbers to take part in the movement. They neither have shunned their veil nor do they feel too comfortable in being recorded in cameras, but they claim that for them coming out in open and leading the fight for men in their families is a sign of victory against the patriarchy.
“Our land holdings have reduced to negligible. Income from agriculture can’t even feed us two times a day. Do you think we should sit quietly at homes and let our children take up the same paths where our husbands have been suffering heavy losses every year?” asked Veero Devi, a resident of Jassia.
Besides those seeking reservation for their children, women whose children are locked in jails or undergoing trial for large-scale violence that had erupted last year in February, are also coming to take part in agitations as one of the prominent demands of the Jat community this time is to free all youths of all charges in connection with the February violence.
“All are our children. But when someone is from your village, the closeness is even more and you have to come out in their support,” said Ompatni, who came in tractor trolleys with the other women of her village from Mokhra.
The women here might not have ever come out to raise their voice against increasing crimes against women in Haryana or for the skewed sex ratio of the state, but now they have come out in support of the agitation for quota led by our community. Some outspoken ladies even come on stage and criticise the government, while most others strengthen the protest by quietly sitting and adding to the size of the crowds.