Farmers warn government of nationwide agitation
After holding a two-week-long protest march from Mandsaur to Delhi, protesting farmers on Wednesday warned government of large-scale, nationwide agitation if their demands are not met.
The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee concluded the protest march at Jantar Mantar but said that several such protest marches would be held in the future.
Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan said that the Mandsaur-Delhi Kisan Mukti Yatra was just "a trailer".
"Farmers are suffering due to anti-farmer policies of the government. There will be widespread protests across the country if the government does not take steps to ensure adequate price for agriculture produce and waive off crop loans," he said.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana leader and MP Raju Shetty said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come to power because of farmers' support.
Shetty also raised the farmers' issues in Parliament on Wednesday where he said: "You (BJP government) are in power because farmers supported you. If they decide, you will be sitting in the Opposition in 2019."
Without taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name, he said: "We have given you a chance to speak from Lal Quila (Red Fort). If you fail to to work for farmers, then you must forget 2019."
Referring to Mandsaur, he told the protesting farmers that it was for the first time in the history of independent India that shots were fired at farmers.
The protesting farmers were predominantly from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
Farmers like Vitthalrao Shelke from Ahmednagar of Maharashtra and Ramphal Kushwaha from Allahabad of Uttar Pradesh said they were suffering despite the loan-waiver announcement in their states.
"The government has decided to waive off loans of about Rs 1.5 lakh. However, it wants us to clear the remaining debt first to get the waiver benefit. If we had money to pay loan, why would have we asked for waiver?" Shelke said.
Kushwaha said they were facing difficulties in arranging money for sowing, as his bank had not yet cleared his debt.
"Although Uttar Pradesh government made loan-waiver announcement long back, banks haven't got instructions so far. We do not have money to buy seeds and fertilisers, though sowing season has started," Kushwaha said.
Another farmer, Ashish Jhansi said that he had to sell his produce of potato for just Rs 2-4 per kg due to low demand in the market.
"Despite fall in prices, we did not get any help from the government. Many farmers preferred to leave their produce to rot in the field as the remuneration cost would not cover even the transportation cost," Jhansi, who hails from Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh, said.
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Anupam said various yatras from different states to Delhi on the lines of the Mandsaur-Delhi Yatra would be held.
"The yatra received tremendous response, which shows farmers are under financial burden and suffering due to poor policies of the government. Now, we want to unite farmers across the country through such yatras," he said. - IANS-