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Faces from the Farmer's Rally

  • Farmers from 24 states came to New Delhi on 29 November to participate in the two-day Kisan Mukti March. A sea of people converged at Ramlila maidan in the evening. The next day they began a march to Parliament to present their demands but were stopped by the police. Farmers, young and old, took part with colourful posters and banners. There were women, too, whose husbands had committed suicide in despair. Students and theatre groups rallied behind the farmers.    

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • The farmers’ rally was organized by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination (AIKSCC) Committee which represents around 200 farmer organisations. Yogendra Yadav’s Swarajya Abhiman and Raju Shetti’s  Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana were at the forefront of the mass rally. Social activist Medha Patkar supported the farmers and so did a number of journalists, doctors, lawyers and students.  

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • The rally received strong support from 21 political parties.  Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury, Farooq Abdullah and Sharad Yadav, stood together at Jantar Mantar and assured the agitating farmers that they were completely on their side.  The AIKSCC has demanded that farmers get guaranteed remunerative prices for agricultural commodities based on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and loan waivers. They also asked that a full session of Parliament discuss rural distress. Opposition party leaders wholly backed their demands.

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • Rural distress has hit women the most. Male farmers have committed suicide leaving their families struggling to survive. Yashwanti, from Meham village in Rohtak district, said they were drowning in debt. The women cultivated wheat and vegetables but the cost of seeds was very high. At the mandi, traders tell them their crops aren’t of good quality and pay them less. “We want the government to reduce the prices of seeds, pay us remunerative prices for our crops and give our children jobs,” she said. “Sharecroppers and farmers who take land on lease must be entitled to all the benefits that landlord farmers get.”

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • Siya Ram Singh had come all the way from Dalegaon district of Maharashtra.


    “The Narmada Bachao Andolan informed us of the rally. We collected money from our village to get here.  I am paid Rs 2,000 per quintal for the wheat I grow and Rs 1,200 for jowar. We lost our land due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam and we were resettled in Dalegaon. But life is tough here. We can’t even pay our agricultural labour. We want to be paid one and a half times the cost of our produce so that we can pay the people who plough our fields and save some money for ourselves,” he said.

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • Farmers from Tamil Nadu are finding that agitating in Delhi makes better sense than going to Chennai with their demands. It creates national impact. The district secretary of the Cauvery River Farmer Protection Association said 10 of them had been sitting in Jantar Mantar since 141 days. They, too, were demanding a hike in the prices of their crops and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report.

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta

  • Issues facing farmers, along with rural distress, may well play a role in the elections, slated for next year. Political pundits point out that farmers eventually vote on caste lines and not on the critical issues that they collectively face. But is a rainbow coalition of the farming community taking shape? Is the farmers rally a precursor and could it go viral?  

     

    Photo: Shrey Gupta