New Delhi, Nov 20: Thousands of farmers from across the country held a protest march here on Monday and also began a two-day ‘Kisan Mukti Sansad’ or a mock Parliament session where “two Bills” were tabled, on crop loans waiver and remunerative prices for farm produce, to highlight government apathy towards the farming community.
These Bills now will be “passed” on Tuesday as the debate by farmers, activists and political leaders could not be completed on Monday.
Once these Bills are “passed”, they will be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the government has “failed” to draft such Bills aiming at providing relief and support to farmers.
The protest march organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) — an umbrella body of 184 farmers organisations — started from the Ramlila Maidan and ended on Parliament Street near Jantar Mantar.
The AIKSCC alleged that Modi had made a promise to farmers of 50 per cent profit margin during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, which he had “forgotten”. It also said the government had failed to address issues such as rising prices of pesticides, fertilisers, fuel.
Owing to the huge participation of farmers across the country, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh should hear them, the farmers said.
“We want Agriculture Minister to visit the Kisan Sansad and hold discussion with farmers,” said Kirankumar Vissa, a farmer activist from Telangana.
Around 15,000-17,000 farmers from 19 states of the country participated in the protest march.
All members in the mock parliamentary session were women, who spoke about their sufferings due to the “wrong and anti-farmer policies” of the government.
Lok Sabha member and farmer leader Raju Shetti “tabled the Bills”, which were then discussed.
“We held a discussion on these Bills today but many are yet to speak. So we will continue it tomorrow. Once the Bills are passed, they will be sent to the Prime Minister,” Shetti said.
Social activist Medha Patkar was designated house Speaker during the mock session.
Criticising the NDA government for “failing” to fulfil its promises, the farmers warned it of repercussions during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Pooja More, a farmer from Maharashtra, said thousands of farmers had committed suicide as the government had no concern for them.
“There are leaders who make tall claims, but do nothing. The current system is not beneficial to farmers.”
Among the women farmers were about 50 widows from Maharashtra, who said their husbands had to take their own lives owing to crop failure and government apathy in giving any kind of support.
Prabhavati from Karnataka’s Bidar said her brother committed suicide as crop prices fell drastically.
“We grow pulses, grains, and sugar cane on our 10 acres. Despite good yield, we could not even recover the production cost. So, my brother committed suicide,” she said.
Many farmers said they were under tremendous financial burden due to the fall in prices and lack of government help.
There were some farmers who had come with other issues.
Bhim Mangli from Jharkhand’s Dumka said his three acres land was grabbed illegally by a landlord in his village.
“I followed the matter with local authorities but they did not take any action against the powerful landlord. I have come here to attract Centre’s attention,” he said.
Explaining the poor state of farmers’ lives, Ramadevi from Andhra’s Pradesh Anantapur said as many as 30 women from her village were kidnapped and forced to do labour work in Bhiwandi for two years. IANS