Women at Singhu border to lead Republic Day tractor march

“Repeal farm laws by Republic Day, or else...”: Women tell Modi

Politics

January 15, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Despite calls for elderly, children and women to leave the protest sites around Delhi, women at Singhu border say they are here to stay braving the harsh winter and that they will lead the tractor march to Delhi on Republic Day.

On each visit the Singhu border looks a bit different. Almost every day something new is built to meet the immediate needs of the tens of thousands for whom Singhu border has become their new home. On the evening of Lohri many dedicated tented sleeping areas for women sprang up as thousands of women arrived to reinforce the movement.

Jasbeer Kaur was on board of one of the 1500 trolleys that had left Amritsar the day before. She reached on Lohri morning, fully prepared for the long haul till Republic Day. Tugged inside a tent that is only for women, Jasbeer along with other four other women, Manjeet Kaur, Amarjeet Kaur and Virendar Kaur, while shelling peanuts that they had got for Lohri, are discussing about their lands and the laws that have been implemented.

They say that around 1500 trolleys from Amritsar reached Singhu border during the day and that a few thousand were ready to leave from Gurdaspur, with the aim to reinforce presence of women in the protest. “We are very upset due to the black laws brought by Modi and we ask him to repeal them. We are already so backward and poor, why is trying to push us even further behind. We voted for Modi, who was there in the posters, we didn’t vote for Tomar (agriculture minister) as we don’t even know him. We want Modi to repeal the black laws, Tomar can do whatever he wants,” Jasbeer Kaur tells Media India Group.

Even though it was Lohri, an important festival in the northern part of India, especially in Punjab, the women say they were in no mood to celebrate the festival. The festival is celebrated by lighting up a bonfire and people dance and sing around it. They offer a whole lot of snacks including peanuts, popcorn, jaggery, small sugar-candies with sesame seeds to the holy fire and also eat them. However, this time around the offering to the fire was a tad different – copies of the three farm laws were thrown into the fire as a sign of farmers’ ire. “We celebrated Lohri, by burning copies of the black laws imposed on us by Modi. We did not celebrate it with any happiness or cheer. So many farmers have been martyred during this protest, so in the honour of their memory, we did not celebrate Lohri. Our brothers are sitting and guarding the borders and we are sitting here. This is not a life that anyone would want,” adds Jasbeer Kaur.

A cold shoulder to the falling temperature

Even though most of the women present in the tent are above 50, they say they are not scared of the extreme winter that has gripped northern India for over a month, saying they are ready to fight just like their ancestors and their Gurus. Ranjeet Kaur, 52, says that they don’t fear the winters as it was their ancestors who fought the same battle in the month of Poh (winter season).

Ranjeet Kaur(right) says that if the farm laws are not repealed before January 26, the women will lead a tractor march on Republic Day (MIG photos/Varsha Singh)

“What cold? Our Gurus and saints did not feel cold. You were not here the day when it rained so heavily that water flowed here as if it were a canal. Our Guru’s mother, Mata Gujjar Kaur, was very old, yet with her small grandchildren she was in jail but she did not feel cold. We are following her today, so how can we feel cold? You want to know what makes the winter so harsh for us? The black laws that have been brought by Modi. He is responsible for this and he is forcing us to spend months on the roads like this. He is poisoning us,” says Ranjeet Kaur.

Roaring for Republic Day

The women say that they are here for the Republic Day rally on January 26 and warn the government to just observe them and their tractor rally, but not provoke them.

“We have come here to claim our rights; we have not come to beg before Modi on the farm laws that he is forcing upon us. Tell Modi that if he annuls the laws before January 26, then it is okay, else he will see what Sikh women are capable of. Only women will go on that day, our brothers will stay here at Singhu border on January 26,” adds Ranjeet Kaur.

They seem to be all set to face the force on the D-Day. “We will reciprocate in the same way that they treat us. If they let us protest peacefully, we will stay peaceful. If they try to stop us by using force,

we will reciprocate in the same way. If they use their sticks on us, I am also carrying my stick. If they use their bullets, even then no problem. We are not weak or scared. Either we will be attacked or we will win the battle and either we will go back home with our rights or we will die here. Let the generations to come know about the courage of women here. We are here to demand for our rights and nothing else,” adds Ranjeet Kaur.

Janpati from Sonipat says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started behaving like a dictator and warns that Singhu border will turn into another Jallianwala Bagh (where hundreds of freedom fighters were killed in unprovoked firing by the British in 1919) if they don’t repeal the laws. “Those who will be attacked are our people as are those who will attack us. The government should introspect on why are they creating a rift within us even as some of brothers have been sent to guard the country’s borders and others forced to sit here. Either way, we end up as losers if there is violence,” she adds.

It is past midnight already and the women are ready to go to sleep inside their tents as a couple of men guard outside. Sitting on a cot, right beside the entrance is another lady who is singing an old famous Hindi film song, “Dil Diya hai jaan bhi denge, ae watan tere liye.” (We have given our hearts, and are ready to sacrifice our lives, o motherland for you!) As her voice gets louder, others too join in the chorus, before turning in for the night.

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