Punjab’s Workers Union promises to look after fields until farmers return

Workers attend to farmers’ nagging worries about farmland back home

Image Courtesy:thedailyguardian.com

Punjab farmer Jaswinder Singh was torn between continuing protests against the three farm Acts in Delhi and returning to his field in Baras village of Fatehgarh Sahib district. His worries were finally allayed when a member of the Punjab’s Water Supply and Sanitation Contract Workers’ Union (WSSCWU) said that the organisation would look after his fields during his absence.

Jaswinder told SabrangIndia in Punjabi, “This is the first time in my life that I have witnessed such support for farmers. Nowadays I and other farmers can call Union members and instruct them to water or fertilize the field. This is going to strengthen protests further.”

Thousands of farmers over the last fortnight or so have left their fields untended to demand their rights from the central government. Local reports have shown that while many protesters have resolved to stay in Delhi until demands are met, concerns about their home and failing crops still weigh on their mind.

WSSCWU President Varinder Singh told SabrangIndia that during support rallies, many Union members learnt villagers were reluctant to leave their land unsupervised.

“We decided to support farmers in any way we can. Our members look after the fields as per instructions, replace gas cylinders at home and try to lessen the burden on farmers. We want to head towards Delhi as well. The people in Delhi said they’ll call us soon,” he said.

The Union sent out a call to over 2,500 volunteers asking them to look after fields, provide medicines, fodder to animals and help out in every possible manner until the farmers returned. Varinder said members have started flag and mashaal (torch) marches to inform villagers across the state that they can proceed to Delhi without worrying about domestic matters.

At the same time, they have also made preparations to march to Delhi at a moment’s notice.

“We are ready with food and milk for protesters in Delhi. The government has to listen to our demands. No one will survive if these laws are enforced,” said Varinder.

After inconclusive meetings with the central government, farmers continue to oppose the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Agitators fear that these laws will destroy the pre-existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and turn farmers into slaves of corporates.

To support their cause, Jaswinder’s wife has set out for Delhi while her son and mother-in-law wait at home until school examinations are over. Similarly, many other people have set out from Punjab for the next nationwide agitation on December 14.

“Even my son has told me ‘Dad, return victorious!’ Farmers will not back down. The people’s support encourages us to continue forward,” said Jaswinder.


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