Thousands of farmers from all over the country arrived in Delhi today (Thursday, Nov 29) for a two-day protest against the Narendra Modi government’s failure to address their concerns, including lack of debt relief, remunerative prices for produce and other recommendations of Swaminathan Committee.
The protestors gathered at Sabzi Mandi in North Delhi and the railway stations in Anand Vihar, Nizamuddin and Bijwasan and walked towards Ramlila Maidan, ANI reported. They will march to Parliament tomorrow.
The farmers belong to 200 groups and represented by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Amid various claims about the turnout for the protest, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma put the number of protestors between 12,000 and 15,000, the Hindustan Times reported.
The farmers have been demanding the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Committee report, increased minimum support price and a special joint Parliament session to discuss agrarian distress and two Bills – the Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill, 2018, and the Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill, 2018.
“At Parliament Street, farmer leaders will speak on agrarian issues,” said AIKSCC Convenor Hannan Mollah. “Leaders of different political parties barring the Bharatiya Janata Party will address the gathering.”
All India Kisan Sabha Secretary Atul Anjaan said all senior Opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal, have been invited to address the protestors. “To counter agrarian distress, the first step of the government should be waiving farmers’ loans,” said Anjaan. “A National Debt Relief Commission for farmers has also to be set up.”
A group of farmers from Tamil Nadu carrying skulls of two of their colleagues who have allegedly committed suicide arrived in the city on Thursday and threatened to march naked if they are stopped from walking to Parliament, PTI reported. “Tomorrow, we will stage naked protests if police stop us from going to Parliament,” said their leader P Ayyakannu.
Friday’s march will be the second major farmers’ protest in the national Capital in as many months. On October 2, seven policemen were injured as security forces used water cannons and fired tear gas shells to stop farmers from entering the national Capital. The protests were called off the following day.
More than 20,000 farmers from across Maharashtra marched to Mumbai last week, demanding that the state government implement the measures it had promised in 2017, including a farm loan waiver. They had organised a similar protest march in March.