The ongoing protest by Tamil Nadu farmers at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi has reached Day 22nd, where more than 100 farmers from southern districts of Tamil Nadu, including men and women, are protesting seeking central government to intervene into the issue and take necessary actions. The farmers are protesting in half-nude (women in petticoats and men in underwear) with half-shave heads, skulls of dead farmers and begging bowls, to grab the attention of people, media and the government.
Despite the heat in the capital, the farmers are protesting continually for 22 days (April 4, 2017) and will continue to protest until their reasonable demands are met. They were protesting in several ways for days now, by holding dead rats and snakes in their mouth, carrying skulls of dead farmers, half-shaved head, among others and still no considerable measures have been taken from either central or state governments.
Who are these farmers?
Around 100 farmers from Cauvery delta districts and its surrounding districts of southern Tamil Nadu headed by P Ayyakannu arrived at Delhi on March 14th and went onto protest outside the Prime Minister Narendara Modi residence. But, they were not allowed to do so and then they went to Jantar Mantar and sat on protest since then.
Several protests were going on in the state supporting the farmers and other accompanying issues. Tamil Nadu has turned into a protest land since the beginning of the year where people of the state were protesting against several issues, including but not limited to, hydrocarbon, attacks on fishermen, Cauvery among others.
Why are they protesting and their demands?
Tamil Nadu was severely hit by drought, the worst in 140 years, and adding to the misery, Karnataka state government refused to give water as directed by Supreme Court, because of which the southern belt was drastically affected with three-fourth of the cultivated fields gone waste and un-sowed.
More than 250 farmers have committed suicide in the past 2-3 months due to drastic drought and unable to repay bank loans. They have taken loans from state co-operative and nationalized banks, but when they weren’t able to re-pay their debt due to national calamities like drought, these banks harass farmers and issue notice, because of which they were forced to commit suicide.
Their demands are reasonable and the governments aren’t ready to listen to their demands.
- Drought relief package for drought affected farmers
- Waiver of the farm loans
- Forming a Cauvery Water Management Board
- Interlinking of the National Rivers
- Fair prices for their produce
- Pension/support system for old-age farmers who can’t work
- Make Cauvery delta zone special farming zone
The farmers were being met by a few union and state ministers, and they even met Pranab Mukherjee (President of India), Arun Jaitley (Union Finance Minister) and (Uma Bharati) Water Minister. After several successful meets and negotiations by ministers and authorities, the Center released around Rs. 2000 crores against the demanded Rs. 40,000 crores, which is just 5%, and the farmers are very clear about their demands who will not call-off their protest until their demands are met.
Despite several ongoing protests across the state of Tamil Nadu and in New Delhi, both state and central governments are not ready to hear the issues of people and no big announcements have come from both of them either.
After 21 days of protest (still counting), the governments haven’t made any announcements as a relief for the farmers, but they ensure to compromise and send them back to Tamil Nadu by any means.
After Supreme Court’s order to form Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB), the centre failed to do so and went in favor of Karnataka government. The government wanted to commence hydrocarbon project, so they are doing all favors in response by stopping water from Cauvery and not forming CWMB and not releasing drought fund.
The state government isn’t bold enough to stress the centre for the right of the people in the state, as there is lots of confusion prevailing within the ruling party.
Media, which has the power to change anything, doesn’t want to focus on farmers’ protest because that doesn’t matters them.
What will happen next?
We will have to wait and see what these governments do in the coming days. The farmers of Tamil Nadu are not fighting for a state alone, but for the entire country, and if the government keeps on ignoring farmers issues, then one day there won’t be farmers to deal with. Without agriculture and its accompanying businesses, a country won’t prosper at any cost.