Fazilka — A subtle dribble, recently perceptible, of cultivators and _ traders from the Fazilka-Abohar region in Ferozepur district of Punjab to adjoining Haryana and Rajasthan began Some months ago and appears to be slowly increasing. The Centre’s vaccination in deciding the fate of this opulent cotton and citrus fruit growing belt and uncertainties in Punjab, have spawned insecurity in the tehsil particularly Abohar, leading to this gradual movement.

Though the area was unaffected by the general turbulence, Hindu farmers today are exploring the possibility of exchanging land with Sikh cultivators in Haryana, who feel plagued by the derogatory and discriminatory actions there and are anxious to return to Punjab. Business classes, mainly shopkeepers and aradhtis (agricultural financiers), are seeking alternate ventures in the contiguous states of both Haryana and Rajasthan.

While no figures of this slow migration exist, Mr. Bhula Ram, secretary, cooperative societies, Abohar, claimed last week that around three to five percent of cultivators were taking positive steps to move to other states in order to escape the apprehensions facing them.

Water for the Fazilka farmer is the foremost priority. Already, feeling discriminated against being at the tail end of Punjab’s canal network, he fears greatly his fate if the area is transferred to Haryana. A cross-section of farmers voiced doubts about truncated water supplies from Punjab if the area was detached from Ferozepur district.

Fazilka residents and traders share the sentiments of the farmers but for different reasons. Their reasoning is that should the 1970 award be implemented, the prosperous township of Fazilka would be reduced to penury, as all business would shift to the Sirsa area in Haryana, the closest district to this region. Fazilka, they said, would cease to be a subdivision further reducing its prosperity and importance.

According to Mr. Jagdish Chander Kalraan aradhti from Fazilka — all people in their line of business would face insolvency if the 116 villages were transferred to Haryana as cotton and wheat mandis would shift overnight. The alternative in that case was that either they maintain two business establishments, an almost impossible proposition or resign themselves to losing over three quarters of their business.

Land prices in Fazilka like in Abohar, 30 km away had also fallen by around Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 an acre as uncertain future precludes any new buyers from coming.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 26, 1985