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Steering new hopes behind the veil

 

 

Shalini Sharma | Chandigarh |

With the wind of change blowing as the year moves into the windy season, the Jat agitation is taking a new turn this time. Breaking away from their shackles, it is the women in veil leading the front.

The new face of the protests that has emerged is of Babli Malik from Rohtak district in Haryana.

With a veil covering her face and stirring new hopes among her people, she steers her tractor to the protest site at Jassia village. She is not alone, though.

Babli, who is a secondary school passed, is backed by her husband Surinder Malik. With four trollies attached to her tractor, she makes her benefaction of around 200 people almost every day to the agitation site.

"During the last protest, we lost our young boys and many of them are still in jail. We are not giving in at any cost this time," she said.

Babli made it clear that this time, women will not only stand shoulder to shoulder with men, but even ahead of them.

A very positive Babli is not willing to accept anything between their demands and herself. Sure of receiving a favourable response from the government, she stands as a rock holding the Jaat demands high.

Apart from the reservation for Jat people, their demands also include the release of the arrested youths from jails, withdrawal of cases during last year's agitation and government jobs to the kin of youths killed and those injured during the stir which took place in 2016.

Besides working at power with men, she wears a veil. When asked about her being a daring and a strong woman, but still wearing a veil, she said, "It is a mere formality now. I have two sons, I will make sure that their wife's do not have to carry forward this formality."

Yashpal Malik, the president of All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), gave a unique explanation for the veil of Haryanvi women.

"It servers double protection for women. First one is regard for the elders and second, it saves their skin from dust. Like the women driving scouters in cities cover their face to protect their skin, our women work in field veil protects their skin from dust," he said.

With awareness and determination, the aspiration of Babli and her following, perhaps, would see the light of day, and bring about the much needed change.