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Sleeping in tractors, bathing by the roadside, women farmers say they’ve come prepared

Hundreds of women farmers have marched to Delhi with their male counterparts to voice their opposition against the new farm laws, which agitators say will change the manner in which agricultural produce is procured and traded .

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Langar Farmer Protest

Gurdev Kaur, a 70-year-old woman farmer from Patiala, gets a call every two hours from her family members, who are concerned for her well being. Kaur, one of the oldest women participants in the ongoing protests, has been camping at Delhi’s Singhu Border for the past three days with thousands of others from Punjab and Haryana who have marched up to the capital to voice dissent against the newly passed farm laws by the Central government.

And Kaur is not the only one.

Hundreds of women farmers have marched to Delhi with their male counterparts to voice their opposition against the new farm laws, which agitators say will change the manner in which agricultural produce is procured and traded .

Septuagenarian Kaur says that when they were told they will all march up to Delhi to protest against the laws, she did not think twice. “In Punjab, we have been attending meeting on our action plan every day for the past two months. We are ready to support the agitation till our last breath,” she said.

Kaur’s husband passed away a few year ago. She has two married sons back home who take care of the house and the family. “My daughters-in-law will take care of the house while we are here. They call me up frequently to ask if I am fine. They are worried because I am old. But I am not alone. There are hundreds of women here to support the cause and we take care of each other. We have our daily doses of medicines and other necessities with us. We can survive well enough,” she said, adding that she also speaks to her grandson daily, who is in Canada.

Sixty five-year-old Amarjeet Kaur, another protester, added that for the last three days they were sleeping in tractor trolleys. “We have brought along mattresses and we sleep in tractor trolleys. We have designated places to take bath and relieve ourselves. We are not used to all this, but it is for a cause in which all of us are together. Most of the women here are the only representatives from their families,” she said.

Donning a salwar kameez and covering their head with a shawl or dupatta, these women participate in the protest at the Singhu Border by the day and as it starts getting dark, retreat to their tractors to prepare the day’s meal. One of them, 50-year-old Charanjeet Kaur said their tractor is at least four kilometers away from the main protest site. “In the afternoon, we sit where our kisan leaders deliver speeches and raise slogans against the current farm laws. By evening, we return to our tractor trolleys, which is our home for now,” she said.

For the past three days, a majority of these women farmers have mainly been occupied in preparing large quantities of food and distributing it among the protesters hrough Langars with the help of other younger farmers.

“Most of our time is spent in cooking meals. We’ve been eating chapati with mixed vegetable curry for the past three days, which we cook ourselves. We’ve brought ration in abundance. We have food to last us for 5-6 months. When we decided to leave for Delhi, each of us contributed different items. While some brought oil, some contributed spices. Someone else donated their stove while others were told to chip on with mattresses and quilts. When our ration gets over, we will bring more. But will return only when our demands are met,” said 62-year-old Baldev Kaur, another woman farmer from Fatehgarh, close to Patiala.

The farmers have been protesting at Singhu Border since Friday when thousands of them reached Delhi’s border, but were restricted from entering the Capital. Clashes later broke out with the police, with the farmers trying to cross through barricades to enter the city. The Delhi police later allotted Sant Nirankari ground, in Burari, to the farmers to continue their agitation. The farmers, however, turned down the offer, continuing to block the Singhu Border and demanding Ramlila Maidan as a protest site, which is close to Lutyens’ Delhi.

Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary, Bharita Kisan Union, Ludhiana said that whoever was with them had volunteered.

“Women have been the backbone of our movement since the beginning. Even in Punjab, they have been taking care of us when it came to food and other necessities and kept our movement going with active participation in all fields. At least 1000-1200 women joined us from Patiala , Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and other places. We respect them and are deeply thankful to them for their contribution,” Lakhowal said.

India

‘Jai Hind’, Modi wishes nation on Republic Day

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Jan 26 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended his greetings to the citizens of India as the country marked its 72nd Republic Day.

In a tweet both in English and Hindi, the Prime Minister said: “Wishing all the people of India a Happy Republic Day… Jai Hind.”

On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India came into force.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the National War Memorial near the India Gate later in the day, from where he will lead the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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India

Tractor rally: farmers breach Delhi’s Red Fort in huge protest

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Red Fort

Thousands of farmers protesting at agriculture reforms have fought through police barricades and tear gas to enter Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex.

They were on foot and in tractors – part of a huge rally that was planned to coincide with India’s Republic Day.

Many protesters diverted from agreed routes and clashes broke out with police. One protester has died.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of Delhi as security forces scramble to restore order.

The government says the reforms that spurred the protests will liberalise the agriculture sector, but farmers say they will lose income.

Tens of thousands of them have been striking on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding the laws be repealed. They rejected a government offer to put the laws on hold last week.

This is one of the longest farmers-led protests India has ever seen, pitting the community against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government.

How did the protests turn violent?

Police agreed to allow Tuesday’s rally after several rounds of talks on the condition that it would not interrupt the annual Republic Day parade, which takes place in central Delhi. They gave farmers specific routes for their rally, which would largely be confined to the outskirts.

But farmers instead converged on the iconic 16th Century fortress. They breached security and clambered onto the walls and domes of the fort, even hoisting flags alongside the national flag.

By Tuesday afternoon, police said they had removed protesting farmers from the Red Fort complex, but the situation remains tense.

“We came here to deliver a message to the Modi government, our job is done. We will go back now,” one protesting farmer told NDTV.

While farmers at several entry points appear to have followed the agreed routes, a section of protesters broke through police barricades earlier in the day.

They marched towards central Delhi, where India’s parliament is located.

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Farmers’ demonstrations in Delhi turn violent as protester clash with the police

Violence broke out in Delhi on Republic Day as protesters in farmers’ tractor rally marched into the national capital, breaking barricades and clashing with the police. The Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shells and lathi-charge to contain the situation. Deviating from the designated route, a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted flags

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Red Fort Farmers

Violence marred farmers’ tractor rally on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police at multiple places in Delhi and entered the iconic Red Fort.

Protesting farmers deviated from pre-decided routes, which prompted police personnel to resort to lathicharge and tear gas. Many cops were injured in the violence that broke out amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in India.

Protesting farmers at Delhi border points clashed with police early Tuesday morning as they broke barricades to force their way into the city much ahead of the time the cops had told them to enter. Thousands of farmers entered Delhi from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points amid heavy deployment of police.

Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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