Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
In January this year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam declared all the 32 districts of the state as drought-hit owing to the failure of the northeast monsoon in 2016.
Reports suggested that it was the worst drought to hit the state in 140 years. 65 farmers had committed suicide in the two months leading to the CM’s declaration (although the government claimed that 17 farmers had taken their lives).
Amidst this agrarian and humanitarian crisis, 150 farmers from the state travelled to Delhi with a series of demands to alleviate the farmers’ plight. These farmers are mainly from the Trichy, Karur, and Thanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu.
(The reason why the farmers approached the centre with their demands and not the Tamil Nadu government is because most of their demands are in the centre list and can be addressed only by the centre and not the state. For an analysis, read Why are the TN farmers protesting at Jantar Mantar and not in Tamil Nadu?)
The Tamil Nadu farmers, protesting since March 14, had called off their protest on April 23. They resumed protesting on July 16 at Jantar Mantar to continue making their demands to the Centre. Know why #In2Minutes.
Posted by The Logical Indian on Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The farmers battled the disastrous drought, crippling debts and a worrying spike in farmers’ suicides. The protesters, who said their fight is to “prevent suicide by farmers who feed the nation”, have the following main demands:
To get the government’s attention, the farmers initially protested with the skulls of their peers who had lost their lives to the drought. After not getting any response for almost a month, the farmers took their fight outside the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Since then, they have employed various means to attract the attention of politicians, activists and the media. They have protested naked, with rats in their mouths, and even consumed excreta in desperation. The same have been listed and discussed below.
Beginning March 14, the farmers protested for an addressal of their grievances by the authorities. After they arrived in the capital, they immediately left to protest outside the PMO. They were, however, stopped by the authorities. The protesters then went to Jantar Mantar.
The women protested wearing petticoats while the men protested wearing green lungis while carrying begging bowls and the skulls of dead farmers.
On April 10, frustrated with the deafness of politicians and the apathy of the establishment, the farmers took their protest to the Prime Minister’s Office.
A group of farmers stripped near the PMO on the morning of April 10, demanding that their agricultural loans be waived-off.
The protesting farmers were now catching the nation’s attention through their innovative, but often shocking, modes of agitation. The Madras High Court ordered that their loans be waived; however, after the Supreme Court stayed this order and the farmers’ demands were not met, a brief respite and an unstable truce ended and the protests began again in mid-July.
The protesters now took to eating mice and snakes, shaving their heads, conducting mock funerals, shackling their hands with chains and drinking their urine. One of the farmers, exasperated and helpless, even attempted suicide; however, he was rushed to a hospital and survived.
On September 9, about 41 protesting farmers pretended to have been hung upside down as a sign of the government leaving them to die. This was the 107th day of protest.
On September 10, some of the protesting farmers ate their own excreta. A group of ten protesting farmers, led by P Ayyakannu, president of the National South Indian Rivers Linking Farmers’ Association, took to consuming their excreta to draw the centre’s attention to their demands.
Two days later, the farmers took to eating the flesh from a body they had reportedly collected from the banks of the Yamuna river.
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 is tragic, to say the least.
The Logical Indian community staunchly condemns the episode, the need for which would not have risen if the demands of the protesting farmers had been met by the central and the state governments.
The second round of protests have shown that the farmers are not here to run away from the battleground – they are here to stay and fight tooth and nail.
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. The 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.
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