The farmers just cannot take it anymore.
Sending out a stern message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, close to one lakh farmers from across the country converged on Thursday at the historic Ramlila Ground. This was after journeys that took some as long as 36 hours to complete to press for their demands.
The two-day protest began in Delhi on Thursday with demands including loan waivers and better prices for their produce, just months before union government seeks a re-election. The agriculturists marched nearly 25kms from five different locations towards Ramlila Maidan. The police made special arrangements for the protest with 3,500 personnel called in.
Members of Kisan Mukti Morcha from across the country gathered resonating with slogans like,
“Ayodhya nahi, karz maafi chahiye’ (need loan waiver, not temple in Ayodhya).”
Farmers wearing red caps and carrying red flags gathered in the national capital expressing a growing farm distress. An army of agricultural workers are protesting against higher crop prices, farm loan waivers, implementation of the Swaminathan report, among others.
Kartar Singh, 50, a sugarcane farmer from Sambal district, Uttar Pradesh, said he was anxious about the march on Friday and could not sleep, but he’s not complaining. As reported by News18, he said,
“We have not come here to sleep. Farmers have converged in Delhi to remind the Union government that the party leading it had made promises of waiving off loans in its manifesto. And, it has been four and a half years since they came to power,” he said, with an edge of anger in his voice.
Singh is a father of two sons and hails from Fatehpur Sarai village and, his younger son (22 years) has taken the field work while he is away.
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“My wife and children have told me, that I should fight and stay even for a week in Delhi, if needed,” he said.
On Friday, under the umbrella body All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), he along with thousands of others are marching from Ramlila Maidan to the Parliament Street against the “anti-farmer” policies of the BJP-government. The AIKSCC, which represents over 200 farm outfits, has demanded the Bills be discussed and passed in Parliament. It said 21 political parties have extended their support to the Bills and their representatives may visit the protest march on Friday.
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Two special trains carrying farmers, one from Maharashtra’s Miraj and another from Bengaluru, is also expected to reach Delhi on Friday. Many women farmers and students from Delhi University were also part of Thursday’s rally to push the Centre to provide relief to the distressed farmers.
A group of volunteers, belonging to welfare organisation ‘Khudai Khidmatgar’ tried to offer some comfort to these wearied farmers in the cold weather. Shahjeb Jamal, a civil engineering student at Jamia Islamia and a volunteer with the group is lugging around a steel container and a hands out paper cups to farmers as they huddled around.
“Our organisation’s philosophy as envisioned by its founder Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, is service and public harmony, and so we are here. We Stand its the farmers,” he said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has always expressed his backing and complete support towards farmers as he strongly feels that Farmer is the backbone of our Indian economy. On Thursday, speaking with regards to the farmer’s rally, he alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had broken every single promise made by him.
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Making a strong pitch for farm loan waiver, he said,
If the Prime Minister of India can forgive three lakh fifty thousand crore for 15 people…the richest people in the country, then he should be ready to forgive the loan of India’s farmers”.
“We are not asking for any free gift for farmers; we are just saying that whatever you do, you treat everyone fairly. If you are treating the richest people in the country, and you are giving them loan waiver, then you owe that to the farmers of the country”, Gandhi said.