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Amritsar: Farmers feel overlooked as they till land across the border barrier

Numerous farmers cultivating crops on the Pakistani side of the international border believe that their concerns are not even acknowledged in the lengthy list of pledges made by political candidates during their campaigns.

These farms are situated geographically between the Zero Line and the barbed wire. The proprietors of these fields deal with the BSF’s exhausting security inspections, limitations on their working hours, crop damage by Pakistani wild animals, prohibitions on growing crops taller than four feet, and other difficulties.

Even though the farmers are aware that politicians would say anything to win an election, they believe that the pledges will help them draw attention to their problem.

The farmers are often described as visiting authorities or holding a dharna in order to have the money released in press stories as well.

Up to 3,801 acres of agricultural land in the Amritsar area are situated between the Zero Line, the real boundary with Pakistan, and the barbed wire. Despite the fact that farmers were able to get compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre after court intervention, the funds seldom got to them in a timely manner.

After the government erected barbed wire during the Sikh insurgency in the late 1980s, 21,600 acres of land in 220 villages in six districts (Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Ferozepur, and Fazilka) were left on the Pakistani side.

Farmers are often permitted to labor in their fields from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on working days, according to Arjan Singh of Hoshiarnagar. However, there are instances when the time is lost on extra security checks or because of wintertime fog, which allows farmers to work even fewer hours. He went on to say that even laborers are not prepared to work in fields beyond the barrier since they may make more money by staying on this side of the fence for longer.

Farmers must spend more time at security gates because even the equipment they use is meticulously inspected.

“Of the total 13 acres I till, eight acres are on the other side of the fence,” said Ranjit Singh, a different farmer from Bhangala village in Tarn Taran. Nonetheless, the five acres of crop on this side of the fence produce more than the eight acres across the barrier. He continued by saying that obtaining the necessary licenses makes it difficult to build a tube-well connection or make any other changes to the property on the opposite side of the fence.

Rattan Singh Randhawa of the Border Area Sangarsh Committee responded, “Recently in city, the residents of posh localities where land costs Rs 10 lakh per marla, had staged protest to highlight lack of basic amenities,” when asked why politicians have not yet acknowledged the problem of these farmers. Why would politicians care about impoverished farmers who essentially own nothing on this side of the border barrier if they are not serious about those wealthy people?

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