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Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi

 
 

More than 100,000 farmers from across the country took to streets of Delhi on November 30 to express their fury over the government’s alleged apathy toward an ongoing agrarian crisis. Marching to the capital’s Parliament Street, they demanded debt relief, better remunerative prices for their produce, and a special three-week joint session of Parliament to provide a solution.

Over 200 farm organizations got together to hold the Kisan Mukti March (Farmers’ Freedom March) under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee.

In their scathing attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the farmers accused his government of being anti-farmer, anti-poor, and pro-rich.

In the run-up to 2014 general elections, Modi promised to implement the Swaminathan Committee Report, which recommended that farmers be given a remuneration that is 50 percent more than the cost of their crop production. The promise remains unfulfilled.

Farmers began arriving in Delhi on November 29, and headed to Ramlila Maidan, a site known for hosting protests in the city. In the evening, they were greeted with a cultural event, which featured theater groups, singers and poets. Some of them traveled more than 1,000 miles for the protest, which was joined in by people from all walks of life, including students.

Leaders from opposition parties also addressed the march.

Although agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy, farmers feel neglected. Since the mid-1990s, cultivation costs have risen many times over but the income of farmers has stagnated, if not declined. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 300,000 farmers took their own lives between 1995 and 2015.

Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Farmers from across the country reached Ramlila Maidan, a famous protest site in Delhi, on November 29. They relaxed before starting their long march to Parliament Street the following day.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Farmers from the southernmost state of Tamil Nadu protested in a unique way. They displayed the bones and skulls of farmers who had committed suicide due to crop failure, debt, low income, and other reasons.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Farmers were not the only ones protesting. A diverse group of people from Delhi joined in to express solidarity with the farmers’ cause. They also warned the government about the consequences of not meeting their demands.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Ex-army servicemen were also seen at the protest site, demanding their longstanding need for the One Rank One Pension scheme. That would ensure that soldiers who retire at the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, regardless of when they retired. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to implement the scheme.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Farmers traveled long distances to come to the site. Tired from their journeys, they slept on the ground.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
In the evening, the farmers were greeted with a cultural event called Kisan Night (Farmers’ Night), featuring artists. These two dancers were part of a team that performed Bhangra, a folk dance from the northern state of Punjab.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
A large crowd of farmers, and other protesters, gathered around the stage to attend Kisan Night.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
The effect of the performances at the event was visible in the excitement that it created among the crowd.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
A band performed to entertain the protesters.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Singer Jasbir Jassi performed at the event. Jasbir is a familiar name among farmers from Punjab.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Protesters danced during Jasbir's songs, which changed the aura of the camp.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Some of the farmers stayed inside their tents during the performance, but they made sure that their placards were still visible. One of those placards demanded that the government waive all farm loans.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
The farmers braved the cold weather, and slept in tents.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
In the morning, the farmers began their march to Parliament Street.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
Farmers carried flags according to the states and organizations they represented. Elderly farmers also marched with the same energy as young ones.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
Farmers’ Anger Descends on Delhi
State police and security personnel were deployed by the government to maintain law and order.
Image Credit: Avinash Giri
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