Sawai Madhopur- In the quietude of freezing nights, under the vast open sky, farmers in the rural stretches of Sawai Madhopir district, Rajasthan, wage a silent battle against stray animals threatening their crops. Braving the biting cold, these resilient individuals work tirelessly to protect their livelihoods.
To comprehend the challenges faced by these farmers, The Mooknayak team ventured into the rural areas of Sawai Madhopur district, situated 125 kilometers away from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. A majority of the inhabitants in these areas are tribals and Muslims primarily engaged in agriculture.
Embarking on their journey at midnight, the Mooknayak team encountered farmers holding torches in various locations. Near Manonli village on the Bhadauti-Mathura mega highway, some farmers were spotted huddled around bonfires, attempting to ward off the biting cold. The Mooknayak team halted here to engage in conversations with the farmers.
Kanji Meena, a tribal farmer near Manonli village, shared that they endure such nights under the open sky to protect their crops from stray cattle. Despite the presence of a cowshed in the nearby town, it remains unutilized. Farmers express their frustration, asserting that if the government manages the cows, they could find respite within the warmth of their homes.
Jitendra Meena, another farmer from Manonli village, where a bonfire burns, remarked on the harsh cold night. He acknowledged that while farmers receive electricity during the night, it is essential for crop irrigation. The farmer's predicament is often overlooked, caught between the pressure of stray animals and the necessity for power supply for crop irrigation.
Gajanand Meena emphasized the irony of receiving electricity during the night while expressing a crucial demand – the government should restrict its officers from staying overnight in the fields. He highlighted the stark contrast between officials comfortably resting under quilts in their homes and the plight of farmers standing in cold waters throughout the night. Gajanand questioned the rationale behind denying daytime electricity access, asserting that farmers toil round the clock, producing crops in winter, summer, and rain, yet face a scarcity of basic resources.
Gajanand Meena poignantly concluded, underscoring the harsh reality that, despite their tireless efforts, farmers find themselves grappling to secure two meals a day for both themselves and their families.
During their visit, the Mooknayak team observed the crops in some fields in the daylight. At one place, farmer Laik Khan shared a heartfelt story of keeping a watchful eye throughout the night to protect the wheat crop from stray cows. However, the next morning brought disappointment as they discovered that the animals had eaten away the crop.
Laik Khan, also an elected Panchayat Samiti member, raised a crucial concern about the unused 10 bighas of land designated for a cowshed in Dungar town of Malarna. Surprisingly, no one keeps cows in the allocated space, leading to a menace for the peasant community. Khan emphasized the need for cows to be sheltered in the cowshed, especially during the harvest season, urging the government to redirect its attention to this critical matter.
He metaphorically described the farmer's role as akin to that of a soldier stationed on the field's edge, standing vigilant for twenty-four hours to safeguard the crops. In addition to the challenges posed by cattle, the region is also plagued by the menacing presence of pigs, compounding the difficulties faced by the farming community.