Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
The protest of Tamil Nadu Farmers in Jantar Mantar has entered its 108th day today with no sign of betterment of their abysmal plight.
On Monday, the 107th day of their unending protest, they tied nooses around their necks to show that the Centre’s indifference is killing them.
What began on March 14 as a call for help to grab the Centre’s attention to the farmers’ debt-ridden sorry state is turning more and more unfathomable with each passing day.
The women in petticoats and the men in green lungis began their movement by carrying begging bowl and wearing garlands made of skulls of dead farmers. Since then, their demands have been the same – Rs 40,000 drought relief package for drought-hit Tamil Nadu, preventing the state from turning into a desert, preventing Cauvery from turning dry, forming the Cauvery Management Committee, networking all rivers, writing off loans borrowed by farmers and profitable price for agricultural products.
Amirtharaj Stephen who witnessed the protests on-ground had told The Logical Indian in March, “The farmers feel traders are looting them, not providing them with a proper price. The farmers want a fair price for their crops. They are also protesting against the banks who they say are being stringent with them, despite the harsh conditions imposed by the drought.”
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam had declared the entire state as drought-hit on 10 January. He had announced measures to alleviate water crisis in urban and rural local bodies respectively but they had been criticised as being insufficient.
The farmers have been resorting to innovative, and often shocking forms of agitations as their demands fell and continue to fall on deaf ears. They ate mice, shaved their heads, conducted mock funerals, marched naked outside the Prime Minister’s office and even drank their urine.
On April 23, they had suspended their protests after meeting with CM Palaniswami and on the contention that the Centre meets their demand within a month.
Their protest is at Jantar Mantar and not Tamil Nadu because their demands can only be met by the Centre. Their loans are from nationalised public sector banks which only the Centre can waive off; the Cauvery management board, the drought relief package, the minimum support price, interlinking of rivers – can only be sanctioned by the Centre.
Despite the promises, they were forced to restart their agitation after three months. At least 100 farmers were back in the capital city for a second protest stint. They began with a dramatic 24 hours since getting off a train at the New Delhi Railway station. Around 70 farmers were detained at Parliament Street police station when they tried to stage a demonstration outside the PM’s residence on Lok Kalyan Marg.
The protest yet again took a drastic turn on September 10 after ten protesting farmers allegedly ate their own excreta.
Some part of the protest was also directed at PM Modi with the farmers performing ‘thoppukaranam’ (holding their ears by crossed hands and squatting and rising up) as shouted in air, “Please help us” and ‘Save our life” on the occasion if the PM’s birthday on September 17.
Farmers are the backbone of our nation. But their struggles and sufferings are not prioritised by politicians. The Logical Indian community urges both the central and state governments to move swiftly to rehabilitate the farmers so as to alleviate their struggles in the face of the worst drought their state has had to face in over 140 years.
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