With farmers’ protests against the agricultural laws at Singhu border enters the thirteenth day, the farmers — both men and women — who remain steadfast at the gates of Delhi share their ordeals.
Among women farmers, the most challenging activities appear to be that of bathing, changing clothes and availability of toilets.
The nearby petrol pump of Bharat Petroleum which is closed since the agitation began witnesses a long queue near the washroom one each for men and women.
For 40-year-old Sarabjeet from Punjab’s Amritsar, it is a norm now to wake up at three in the morning and stand in a queue to use the washroom, which she is only able to use after a long wait of two hours.
“As a woman, the most difficulty which I have faced so far is of toilet and bathing. We wake up at 3 am and stand in a queue to avail the petrol pump washroom. Our turn comes after waiting for at least two hours. But we won’t leave till our demand is fulfilled,” she told ANI.
Speaking about the struggles women farmers are undergoing here, 63-year-old Balbinder shares how these challenges have escalated due to the winter season. “Today, I stayed in the queue for two hours before I could use the washroom. Although there are a few portable toilets, very far from where we are stationed. Moreover, most of us bathe before we begin to prepare the day’s food. It’s winter so our adversities have doubled,” she said.
Various NGOs have come forward to help the farmers with basic necessities such as medicines, sanitary napkins, blankets. Although compared to women, men are here in large numbers but they are also facing certain difficulties.
Seventy-three-year-old Kuldeep Singh from Punjab’s Patiala said that due to lack of enough bathrooms, he is forced to take bath at random hours in the day. “I am here since November 25. I take bath at the midnight and then sleep. Today also I took bath at 12:56 am. What else can we do, we do not get a spare bathroom even during the day,” he told ANI.
Residents at the Singhu border have welcomed the farmers to use their washrooms but being large in number they mostly stick to the water petrol pumps, tankers, and portable toilets.
A security guard named Ramdhari Sharma (46) from Bharat petroleum, Kundli said, “No matter at what time of the day it has never seen this washroom empty even for one minute since the protest began. In a day we clean the septic tank five times a day.”
Farmers here are also facing difficulty in washing clothes. Although residents have offered to wash their clothes but water availability becomes a problem here, especially when numbers are huge.
Among all the protest sites, Nirankari Samagam Ground in Delhi’s Burari is better with most of the facilities available, said a farmer.
Farmers who have blocked the borders leading to Delhi as a measure to put pressure on central in rhetoric have stated that they will go back only and if they receive a solution otherwise have ration to sustain longer.
After five inconclusive meetings, the sixth round of talks between centre and farmer’s unions scheduled tomorrow.