Sikar, Rajasthan: Farmers Call Off 13-Day Long Strike After Govt Agrees to Waive Farmers' Loans up to Rs 50,000
The farmers’ movement in Sikar, Rajasthan has won a significant victory with the successful conclusion of the 13-day long struggle led by the All India Kisan Sabha, the farmers’ wing of the CPI(M).
The farmers had been protesting since 1 September.
Fed up of government apathy, falling prices, mounting debts and politicians refusing to keep their promises, thousands and thousands of farmers joined hands to protest the various injustices.
On 11 September, they called for a ‘gherao’ and blockade of district collectorate after talks with the state government had failed to solve their issues.
The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Mandi in Sikar had turned into ground zero for agitating peasants. The protest, which has garnered support and participation from several strata of the society, has also inspired similar movements in other districts of the state.
With students, Anganwadi workers, the city bus union, the auto-rickshaw union, the small traders association, the pump set workers and the local DJ coming down to streets – Sikar saw the biggest gathering in almost 30 years.
The agitation stood tall even as the government resorted to banning the internet in Sikar district on the 11th day of the struggle.
The demands put forward by the farmers
The farmers had the following demands:
- Loan waiver for poor and middle farmers and agricultural workers;
- Greater allocation for MGNREGA;
- Higher wages and more days of work;
- Pension of Rs 5,000 per month for every farmer and agricultural worker above 60;
- Effective crop insurance, protection of crops from stray cattle and wild animals;
- The withdrawal of ban/restriction on cattle trade.
The ban on cattle trade had also largely affected the farmers because the prices of cows and buffaloes have gone down, thus increasing the number of stray animals. The farmers have been losing their production to the stray animals who destroy their crops at night, thus adding to their debts.
The promises made by the state government
- The Vasundhara Raje-led government has agreed to a loan waiver of up to Rs. 50,000 which is expected to benefit 8 lakh farmers, said a Kisan Sabha statement.
- An assurance that it will appeal to the central government seeking implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations regarding Minimum Support Prices (that crop prices 50 per cent over and above the cost of production would be ensured) within a stipulated period by working out all modalities.
- Purchase of groundnut, green gram (moong) and urad at MSP at all district headquarters within seven days and withdrawal of the hike in electricity rates for drip irrigation have been accepted.
- Also, the fellowships for SC/ST/OBC students would be paid immediately with all arrears.
- Relaxation of the restrictions imposed on the sale of cattle, and ensuring the protection of crops from stray livestock and wild animals. The harassment of farmers, and that of traders buying and selling animals from farmers, by the police, would also be stopped.
- Provision of a pension of Rs. 2000 to all farmers. Insurance claims for failure of canal irrigation would also be paid.
Celebrations by farmers broke out across the State on 13 September night as Amra Ram, President of the All India Kisan Sabha, conveyed the outcome of the negotiations held in Jaipur to the agitating farmers. Farmers celebrated the victory with slogans, songs and dance.
AIKS Congratulates Rajasthan Kisans for Historic Victory!The peasantry in Rajasthan under the Kisan Sabha banner have won a significant victory after their resolute struggle lasting 13 days. Since 1st September, 2017 lakhs gheraoed the different District Headquarters on the call of Rajasthan Kisan Sabha for a Mahapadav. For 3 days there was also Rasta Roko across the State bringing about 20 Districts to a standstill. Only ambulances and essential services functioned. The peasant movement received unprecedented support from all sections of the society making it a truly people's movement. The insensitive BJP Government led by Vasundhara Raje Scindia was forced to bow down and accept many of the demands of the peasantry after 13 days of struggle and talks with the Kisan Sabha leadership. The talks went on in 4 phases from 1:00 PM on 12th September and ended on 14th September at 1:00 AM.The BJP Government was forced to agree to loan waiver of up to RS.50,000/- which is expected to benefit 8 lakh farmers, assurance that State government will write to the Centre seeking implementation of Swaminathan Commission Recommendations on MSP in a time-bound manner by working out modalities, purchase of groundnut, green gram (moong) and urad at MSP at all District Headquarters within 7 days, withdraw hike in electricity rates for drip irrigation, payment of SC/ST/OBC fellowship with arrears immediately, relaxation in restrictions in sale of cattle, protection of crops from stray cattle and wild animals, increase of pension to Rs. 2000/month agreed in principle, insurance claim for failure of canal irrigation and stopping harassment of traders and farmers by the police. After agreement on these issues and on a mechanism to implement decisions AIKS President Com.Amra Ram announced withdrawal of the Mahapadav and reopening of roads that were closed for the last 3 days. Kisans across the State celebrated the victory with slogans, songs and dances. AIKS thanks all who stood in solidarity with the movement. This inspiring victory shall inspire similar struggles across the country.
Posted by All India Kisan Sabha on Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Logical Indian salutes the perseverance and the struggles of the farmers of Rajasthan and congratulates them on their victory. We hope that concerned authorities also take notice about the plight of the Tamil Nadu farmers who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar and ensure that their demands are met.