It was well after midnight, however, three women who came from Palghar, Maharashtra to the national capital to be a part of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally on Wednesday, were still awake in their tent. Tulsi Babu Bhagat (82), Jamani Ramavalavi (78) and Marchu Malaji Bhimra (78)- these three old women had left their homes with only Rs 200 despite knowing that is not enough for their four-day stay.
Lehani Dauda, member of the Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Samiti told Newsclick that these women had been requested not to come to Delhi for the protest but they refused and came against all odds. The three women work as Anganwadi helpers and have not been paid since four months.
Speaking with Newsclick, 82 year-old Tulsi said, "I had borrowed Rs 200 from one of my neighbours and came to Delhi to witness the massive protest. We want to show our pain to this fascist government who is not ready to listen to our problems. Why would we travel over 1500 km if we get our basic necessities? I do not have the energy to travel in train anymore but alas, this government is deaf and dumb."
“I don't have anyone after me to look for but still I am fighting for our coming generations. I will fight till my last breath against the government who is looting our money and giving it to the corporates,” Tulsi said in broken Hindi.
On Wednesday morning, Delhi turned red as around two lakh workers, farmers and agricultural workers from across the country marched towards Parliament protesting against the triple failures of the Modi government - to curb violence against women, to create jobs, and to end hunger and malnutrition.
Jamani Ramavalavi, while humming a Marathi folk song, questioned why this government is anti-farmer. She said, "Mokhada and Jawhar talukas are two rural areas which are the worst affected in terms of malnutrition and starvation. More than 1,600 people have died due to malnutrition and starvation in the past two years.”
"Another major problem which we are facing is ration supply. Recently, the government has set up biometric measures for the same. We have to punch our thumb before getting our ration but if sometimes our thumb does not match with the one in the Aadhaar Card, they refuse to give our ration. Why don't they understand that working in the field our thumb becomes rough and does not match up? It's not our fault but they deny us ration and we are forced to purchase it from the shop," Ramavalavi said.
Another lady, Marchu Malaji Bhimra said, "I came here with few bhakhri and chutney which will be finished by today. We have nothing to eat and no money, but still we will fight in a democratic way against this government which is constantly ignoring our demands. Who wants to eat bhakhri and chutney (sauce) but we are helpless. I don't want to eat this the rest of my life, that's why I am here with my comrades."
Lehan Dauda said, "More than 70% people who are sleeping in the tents are poor people and have borrowed money to reach here. Nobody has property, bank accounts, and land, only their demands.”
The question that arises is, on this date when the corporates are getting involved in scams worth of lakhs of crores, how the people who are toiling for the society are forced to travel over 1500 km with mere Rs 200.
The historic rally has brought together workers, peasants and agricultural workers for the first time to warn the Modi government against ignoring their demands. The rally, called by AIKS, CITU and AIAWA, witnessed more than two lakh labourers, farmers and agricultural workers march with red flags.