In Tikri, many farmers are drowning in debt: “It’s a cost we were prepared to pay”


As songs celebrating Gurupurab echoed in the background, Karunjit Singh, 70, gathered his things in a blue bag, in search of eight family members. The Bathinda farmer is finally ready to go home.

“We all came with one tractor a year ago, and we’ll be back today. We grow gehu (wheat) on four bighas of land, but we couldn’t really take care of the crops because we were busy with the protests. I have lost around 25,000 rupees this year, but it is a cost that we are prepared to pay, ”he said.

While the jubilation in Singhu was apparent throughout the day, the mood in Tikri was more subdued, though still vibrant. The farmers here largely belong to the Punjab and Haryana districts and have stayed there for a harsh winter and a long summer. Several farmers said on Friday they would wait for the green light from leaders before deciding whether to return or stay behind.

Others have planned a trip back to their villages to prepare for the next harvest – and prepare for challenges such as the rising cost of fertilizers to save rainfall. Some say they are in debt because so much of their time and energy has been devoted to the protest over the past year.

Among them, Tej Singh (75), who has been at the Tikri border for over 300 days. He cultivates wheat on a large plot in Bathinda. He said he will not celebrate until the government puts in place a minimum support price (MSP) for crops and other reforms aimed at lowering electricity bills and solving the crisis. the debt.

“I have a debt of over 50,000 rupees… We were here to repeal the laws and it happened – but not all of our demands were met. They have not yet given a guarantee on the MSP. It’s not yet a victory, “he said.

Jagbir Singh, a 59-year-old farmer from Jhajjar of Haryana, made his way through the langar where volunteers were handing out kheer and bananas. He too has been on this site for over 300 days.

“I cultivate wheat on five bighas of land. I made a loss this year and have a debt of over Rs 1 lakh. It’s hard to imagine a life after that. But today we remember the farmers who sacrificed their lives for the cause, ”he said.

Akbar Singh (68) from Fazilka district in Punjab chose the jackets distributed to farmers to protect them from the cold. His thoughts were on the more than 300 quintals of rice he was unable to sell this year “at the rate I wanted”. “That, along with the high cost of fertilizers and other expenses, crippled me. I am looking at a loss of Rs 1 lakh. Bohot dukh hai, ”he said.

Bhup Singh Kundu (57), from Rohtak district in Haryana, grows bajra (pearl millet) and rice on his 250 bighas of land. He made peace with the loss he suffered over the past year. “Yahi toh andolan hai (this is the movement). I made this decision when I got here, ”he said.

He has a loan of over Rs 2 lakh after buying a tractor last year, but he is looking forward to the next harvest. “Now I have to think about it. Ten people depend on me for their daily bread, ”he said.


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