In Punjab, women take charge of their farms as menfolk take part in protests at Delhi border
Malkeet Kaur (62) of Deon village in Bathinda district has taken charge of her family’s 10-acre farmland after her husband and three sons are taking part in the ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi.
On Sunday afternoon, she was being assisted by her daughter-in-law Charanjit Kaur (38) in putting fertilisers on the recently sown wheat crop.
“Earlier our task was mainly to chop fodder and milk three cattle heads. As the adult male members of the family are attending the agitation, we have now taken responsibility of the farms as well,” said Malkeet.
Charanjit said last week she irrigated the wheat fields. “We have a few farm labourers whose work I am supervising in the fields. Wheat was sown about three weeks ago and the only work is now to irrigate the farms with a tubewell after regular intervals. I will be taking care of the fields till harvesting as our family members are fighting a collective battle against the contentious farm laws,” said a resolute Charanjit.
Located near the Bathinda-Jalalabad highway, Deon village, which has an estimated population of 5,500, has a support base of the Sidhupur and Ugrahan factions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
The farmer union leaders said the activists are volunteering to help the families with their daily chores.
“The villagers are taking turns to visit the agitation sites at Tikri and Singhu borders. As a jatha of about 25 volunteers will leave Deon for Delhi on Monday, a group of protesters will come back to the village and then another batch will proceed to attend the agitation,” said Ram Singh, who has been coordinating the participation of farmers at the protest sites.
For 65-year-old Amarjit Kaur of Namol village in Sangrur district, taking control of her cattle and wheat crop is now her prime duty. Her husband Ram Singh has been camping at Tikri border for the past 11 days to oppose the agriculture laws. Kaur along with her daughter-in-law and a 10-year-old grandson visits the fields to collect fodder on a bullock cart.
However, she is now worried about the irrigation of the wheat crop.
“My activist husband is at the Delhi border and my son is recovering from an arm fracture. My daughter-in-law is assisting me in taking care of our four-acre land besides other domestic responsibilities. I want my husband to contribute to the farmers’ fight against the draconian laws while the womenfolk will take care of cultivation,” she said.
But for Jaswinder Kaur (65) residing alone at home at Bathinda’s Gill Patti village is an emotional challenge. Nonetheless, the elderly Kaur wants her husband Bhola Singh to come back with pride after laws are repealed.
“I feel lonely as our four daughters are now married and my husband left for Delhi on November 24 with fellow villagers. Sometimes I do feel upset about staying alone but I decided to overcome it. I will go with my younger brother-in-law on Monday to irrigate the wheat fields for the first time this season,” she said.
Octogenarian Dalip Kaur of the same village asked her family members and other neighbours to arrange for consumables for the farmers in Delhi.
“Today there was an announcement from the local gurdwara that farmers need various things. Hundreds of villagers are braving chilling weather for a social cause and assisting their families in every possible way is our social obligation,” she added.
Baldev Kaur, an activist from Barnala’s Harigarh village, and the fellow villagers have extended all support for farm works. “It is the need of the hour that at least one person of a family joins the protest in Delhi. Women are managing domestic chores as well as protests at the Badbar toll plaza here,” she added.