July 24th, 2017
A Tamil Nadu farmer protesting at Jantar Mantar allegedly attempted suicide on 24 July, as per The Indian Express. He was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for treatment and is reportedly stable.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu have resumed their protest in Delhi after their demands for a drought relief package and farm loan waiver had not been met. Last week, they had beaten themselves up with chappals and raised slogans expressing unhappiness over the rise in the salaries of Tamil Nadu legislators.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Ayyakkannu, the leader of the farmer protests had said, “If our demands are not met, we will start our protest again after May 25. We will leave today if we get train tickets.” He referred to the farmer protests that were going on from 14 March 2017. They had suspended their protests after having a meeting with Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami on 23 April 2017.
Over 100 farmers from Tamil Nadu were protesting at the Jantar Mantar in the Delhi since 14 March. The farmers hailed from Trichy, Karur, and Thanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu.
The protesting farmers caught national attention through innovative, but often shocking modes of agitations. They sat holding human skulls of their kin that they claimed were of farmers who were forced to commit suicide earlier, ate mice, shaved their heads, conducted mock funerals, marched naked outside the Prime Minister’s office and even drank their urine in a bid to protest over drought relief and loan waivers from Centre.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu have suffered due to drought and subsequent cyclone in the state. Shortage of water was one of the primary reason owing to which the farmers were unable to grow crops on over 29 lakh hectare of land in Cauvery delta since 2016.In January 2017, Tamil Nadu government declared the state drought-hit after over 100 farmers allegedly committed suicide. Along with this is the imminent danger of increasing debt and poverty.
The current situation
The second surge of farmer agitations in the capital city had started off with more than 100 protesters. This time they had the support of the All India Kisan Sangarsh (AIKS) – spearheaded by VM Singh, a Hindi-speaking farmer from Uttar Pradesh.
Their demands are the same as that of the initial rounds of protests viz. a central drought relief fund, pension for old farmers, setting up of Cauvery Management Board, crop insurance for individual farmers and profitable prices for agricultural produce.
The protesting farmers had expressed dissatisfaction over the hike in Tamil Nadu MLAs’ salaries that was introduced on 19 July. The MLAs would now take home Rs 1.5 lakhs as compared to Rs 55,000 as salary.
Amidst all of this, came the heartening news of a protesting farmer, Subramani, attempting suicide by consuming ten sleeping pills. The police have, however, not considered this as an effort to suicide; they claim that the farmer had fallen sick.
The Logical Indian staunchly condemn the episode, the need for which would not have arisen if the demands of the protesting farmers had been met by the Centre and the State Governments. The second round of protests have shown that the farmers are not here to run away from the battle ground – they are here to stay and fight tooth and nail for what they truly deserve. In a country where agriculture forms the backbone of the economy, it is saddening to see how the concerned authorities have turned a deaf ear to the problems of the farmers.