ਨਸਾਜ਼ੋਨਬਾਜ਼ੋਨਫ਼ੌਜੋਨਫ਼ਰਸ਼॥ਖ਼ੁਦਾਵੰਦਬਖ਼ਸ਼ਿੰਦਹਿਐਸ਼ਿਅਰਸ਼॥੪॥ (ਸ੍ਰੀ ਮੁਖਵਾਕ ਪਾਤਿਸ਼ਾਹੀ ੧੦॥)

Akal Purakh Kee Rachha Hamnai, SarbLoh Dee Racchia Hamanai


ARCHIVED FORUM: Gurdwara Tapoban Sahib
    View Post Listing    |    Search    


Sikhs Make Mini-Punjab in Gujarat
Posted by : singh
Date: 7/20/2004 7:11 pm


Balle balle! Sikh farmers work their magic in arid Kutch

Rupam Jain Nair

Kothara (Bhuj), July 17: A Gurdwara, a Guru Nanak school, scores of Sikh men wearing turbans and flowing beards. A visitor to this remote village in arid Kutch should be forgiven for wondering if he’s in rural Punjab.

Over 200 Sikh families from Punjab and 50 Hindu families from Haryana have settled here for nearly a decade and are turning their patches of wasteland into oases yielding bumper cotton harvests.

‘‘It’s a mini Punjab out here,’’ says district collector P. Sharma, adding that the Punjabis have transformed the land with dedication and drip irrigation.

He says it all started in 1985, when four Sikh families came here and purchased 10 acres of cheap wasteland and made the unyielding land yield. Over the next two decades more families from Punjab and Haryana arrived.

‘‘It was difficult to survive in Punjab,’’ says Gurcharan Singh, who chose to settle here after retiring from the army. ‘‘Big farmers there had revolutionised agriculture, but small and marginal farmers were struggling.’’ For many of them, like Manjit Kaur, it was a difficult decision.

‘‘Leaving one’s roots is very difficult,’’ says the 60-year-old woman. ‘‘But moving out became unavoidable.’’

Kaur arrived here in 2001 with her two sons. They began small, but now own a house, a Maruti car, and about 10 acres of farmland.’‘‘We’d never have been able to have all this in Sangrur,’’ says her daughter-in-law Harjeet.

Some families started from scratch, having arrived here after burning all bridges. ‘‘We sold all our land in Moga and came here in the early nineties,’’ says Narendra Singh. ‘‘There was no going back. We bought 30 acres of arid land. Ten years of hard work, and we are now able reap cotton, wheat, groundnut, mustard, vegetables.’’

The signs of Punjabi enterprise and community work are everywhere. The families have formed trusts which run an English-medium school and a gurudwara. A gurdwara trust from Scotland donated money for the school building. Some families run dabhas. Soon the village will have a ten-bed hospital.

Organising the community was tough work. Says Darshan Singh, who has taken the initiative for building a new gurdwara, ‘‘At one time it was impossible to find a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib in the whole district. Every time we needed one, for say, performing last rites, we would rush and borrow from the air force station. Now, we organise langars twice a week.’’

Locals say the Punjabis mingle very well with them. Sarpanches and other panchayat members have been included on trusts, and the Punjabis are free with advice on how to farm successfully. Sarpanch Bhikaben says, ‘‘They sow the same seeds that we do. But it’s their hard work that brings results. They are the ones who introduced us to tractors, drip irrigation, and other modern methods. There’s no scope for rivalry.’’

Dilip Singh, who runs a garage and a dhaba, says, ‘‘Narendrasinh Jadeja, the local MLA, has often requested us to help local farmers. We willingly do so. But somehow they don’t seem to be so committed.’’

People don’t seem to grudge the Punjabis their success. Says Mukhabhai, a local who’s on the school trust, ‘‘The Sikhs are upright and honest. They consider Kothara their home and involve us in all activities, celebrating Lohri and Navratri with equal zest.’’

In the early years, however, there was some suspicion. Security agencies like the Border Security Force (BSF), police, and intelligence would single out Sikhs for questioning. But now they know that nearly all the people from Punjab and Haryana have ration cards and valid documents to prove ownership of land.

‘‘Our houses in Gujarat have no doors. The state has given us an opportunity to grow and prosper,’’ says Tej Singh, president of the Punjab & Haryana Trust of Kothara. ‘‘We can never imagine disrupting peace here and will never tolerate anyone doing so — here or in Punjab.’’
Re: Sikhs Make Mini-Punjab in Gujarat
Posted by : S Singh
Date: 7/21/2004 10:11 am


Interesting article. It seems Sikhs of Punjab are natural farmers who can turn even dry deserts into green farm land.
Re: Sikhs Make Mini-Punjab in Gujarat
Posted by : Kulbir Singh
Date: 7/21/2004 10:20 am


Amazing success story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Khalsa jee de bol baalay!!
Re: Sikhs Make Mini-Punjab in Gujarat
Posted by : jagroop singh
Date: 7/21/2004 10:59 am


Vahiguru