Protest against Tikri: 2,000 women who have lost family members to suicide

Posted by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |

Updated: December 17, 2020, 10:21:38 am

When demonstrators settle down, so do the police - with heaters, coffeeThe group arrived in Tikri on Wednesday. Prem Nath Pandey

Family members of farmers who have committed suicide in Punjab over the years joined the ongoing protest at the Tikri border in Delhi on Wednesday. Some widows and mothers of the deceased farmers said they intend to stay on site for the duration of the protest.

Around 2,000 women – related to farmers who had committed suicide – from different districts drove to the border from the Malwa region in Punjab in 17 buses and 10 buses arranged by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and 10 tractor wagons on Tuesday. They reached the Ugrahan Group transit camp, about 7 km from the Tikri border, where they held a demonstration with pictures of their deceased relatives.

The women who joined the protest are mostly from families of smallholders with limited land holdings, including four relatives of deceased farmers in Jakhpal village in Sangrur district.

Among them is Gurmeher Kaur (34), who lost her husband Jugraj Singh at a young age in 2007 and has lived alone in the village ever since. “He had 1.5 acres of land and was very stressed about financial problems and debts. When he died I was very young and had two children. I passed my younger son on to my sister as I couldn’t look after him, and my older son lives with my parents in their village 10 kilometers away. You help him learn. After my husband died, I leased our land for agriculture and did wage labor every day, earning around 1,800 to 2,000 rupees a month. My older son is now 18 years old and will take over agricultural work after graduation, ”she said.

She said that she receives help from older women in the village, such as Baljeet Kaur, 52, who lost her husband Gurcharan Singh in 1999. “We have three acres of land. We can get very little from so much land. He had a debt of Rs 5 lakh and he had to marry his younger sister … When my children were young I leased the land, but now my younger son takes care of the farm. We are here to join this protest because smallholder farmers like us are the most vulnerable and will lose what little we have, ”said the 52-year-old.

While the two women said they will stay at the protest site “until the black laws are repealed”, others, including another Baljeet Kaur, 50, from Ugrahan village, will leave on Thursday morning.

“We have two acres of land where my husband grows rice and wheat. Our younger son Sarbjit drove a truck to supplement our meager farming income, but killed himself at the age of 26 after financial pressure from the lockdown, “she said.

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