For the past one week, over 150 farmers from Tamil Nadu have been protesting at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The women are protesting wearing petticoats while the men can be seen wearing green lungis and carrying begging bowls and the skulls of dead farmers.
The farmers are from Trichy, Karur, and Thanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu. They had arrived at Delhi on the morning of 14 March and immediately left to protest outside the Prime Minister’s residence. They were, however, stopped by the authorities. The protesters then went to Jantar Mantar, where they have been protesting ever since.
The ongoing protest is to “prevent suicide by farmers who feed the nation”. The farmers, who numbered more than 150, demanded the following:
- Reasonable drought relief package for drought-hit Tamil Nadu
- Prevent Tamil Nadu turning into a desert,
- Prevent Cauvery from turning dry,
- Formation of Cauvery Management Committee,
- Networking all rivers,
- Write off loans borrowed by farmers,
- Profitable price for agricultural products.
The Logical Indian spoke to a person on the ground,
Amirtharaj Stephen, who told us, “The farmers feel traders are looting them, not providing them 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 have been criticised as being insufficient.
Stephen said, “The farmers want loan waivers and want action against goons who are cajoling them of their money in the region. Furthermore, they say that the government’s relief packages have not reached them. In fact, many drought relief measures are still in their announcement stage.”
The ongoing drought, the worst in 140 years, was triggered by a severely deficient monsoon, has forced over 65 farmers to commit suicide in the last two months, although the government claims 17 farmers have taken their lives. The National Human Rights Commission had sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu government in January 2017 saying “The National Human Rights Commission has taken Suo Motu cognizance of media reports regarding the deaths of 106 farmers during a period of one month in Tamil Nadu which it considers as a matter of concern.”
The Logical Indian learnt that yesterday (20 March) Union minister P Radhakrishnan met the protesting farmers and, late in the night, there was a breakthrough. Radhakrishnan assured action by the centre and requested the farmers to withdraw their protest. The nature of the compromise reached is yet to be revealed. Meanwhile, the farmers still want to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly but this has not been entertained by the authorities.
The Logical Indian take
Farmers are the backbone of our nation. But their struggles and sufferings are often not highlighted by the media or prioritised by politicians. The plight of the farmers protesting in Delhi with the skulls of their deceased brethren is tragic, to say the least. Bothe the Central and state government should 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.