CHANDIGARH: Several family members, including widows, mothers and sisters, of Punjab farmers who committed suicide due to rising debt, joined the protesters at Tikri border on Wednesday.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and elsewhere have been protesting near various border points of Delhi, including Singhu and Tikri, for over a fortnight demanding that the Centre repeal three new farm laws.
At the protest site near the Delhi border, the women carried the pictures of their male family members who had ended their lives after being caught in the dept trap.
"Around 700-800 women whose family members had ended their lives due to farm debt took part in the protest," Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) vice president Harinder Kaur Bindu said.
They came from several districts of Punjab, including Mansa, Bathinda, Patiala and Sangrur.
"We wanted to highlight that the new farm laws will lead to a rise in the number of farmer suicides in the state as these legislations are not in the interest of the farming community. They will ruin the farming sector," Bindu claimed.
Paramjit Kaur (50), who hails from Patiala district said, "The new farm laws brought by the central government will further push farmers into debt trap."
Kaur's debt-ridden husband had committed suicide nine years ago.
The family had negligible land holding.
Mohinder Kaur (65), who also hails from Patiala, said her 19-year-old grandson ended his life five years ago as the family could not afford to pay for his education.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they also wanted to highlight how debt was forcing farmers in Punjab to end their lives.
"According to an estimate, over 50,000 suicides have taken place since 2006 in Punjab," he claimed.
The Centre's new farm laws are anticipated to bring reforms in the agriculture sector by removing middlemen and allowing farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
The farmers, however, worry these laws will eliminate the safety net of the Minimum Support Price (MSP), do away with mandis that ensure earning, and will leave them at the "mercy of big corporates".
Meanwhile, the Jaipur-Delhi highway remained partially blocked as the farmers' stir against the Centre's agriculture laws entered its fourth day on the Haryana-Rajasthan border on Wednesday.
Farmers led by Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and former CPI (M) MLA Amra Ram are agitating on the stretch leading to Delhi in Shahjahanpur of Rajasthan's Alwar district, which borders Haryana.
They had blocked the road on Sunday after police stopped their march to Delhi.
"We have not closed the highway. The government has closed it. The authorities should remove barricades and everything will open in 10 minutes. I assure the public," Yadav told reporters.
He said they feel ashamed when people face problems.
"Last night, an ambulance arrived. We cleared the way but the Haryana Police did not remove barricades. Who is responsible for this," he asked.
In response to a question, Yadav said if farmers retreat today, then there will be no farmer movement in this country for the next 20-25 years.
People will not trust any farmer movement, he said.
Kisan Panchayat national president Rampal Chaudhary is also camping at the dharna site in Shahjahanpur.
Former MLA Amra Ram claimed the agitation is being backed by farmer leaders from Gujarat and Haryana.
He said the road have been closed to traffic by the Haryana government and its police.
The government is crushing the constitutional right by not allowing farmers to go to Delhi, he said.
Police said around 300400 people are camping on the Rajasthan-Haryana border.
Sub-Inspector Mahavir Singh posted at the site said the agitators have blocked the route from Jaipur to Delhi while the stretch from Delhi to Jaipur is open to traffic.