NEW DELHI: As mammoth waves of farmers came converging upon Jantar Mantar, the heart of India's power city of Delhi, merely a few hundred yards of Parliament, one political message was loud and clear: the Narendra Modi government can ignore the issue of farmers' plight only at its own peril.
But another message that would jolt the conscience of India came from the children of farmers who had committed suicide: "Please do not commit suicide. Or you will leave behind orphans like us."
Yogender Yadav at Kisan Sansad: "It is not the farmers who are under debt. Rather, the whole country is under the debt of the farmers."
More than 150 farmers' organisations came together in this Kisan Mukti Yatra that questioned the silence of Prime Minister Modi over Mandsaur shootings. The 13-day long yatra had begun on July 6 from Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh and brought determined crowds to the Kisan Mukti Sansad at Jantar Mantar.
As speaker after speaker addressed the farmers, two specific demands emerged: Farming be made remunerative and farmers be made debt free.
Farmers of Tamil Nadu who have relaunched their agitation also joined the Kisan Mukti Sansad under the leadership of Aiyyakannu.
The children of farmers from Maharashtra who committed suicide performed a skit at the Kisan Mukti Sansad to bring attention to their plight.
Ashok Patil, one of such children present at Jantar Mantar said, "I am suffering because my father committed suicide. But I want to tell all the farmers of this country that suicide is not an option, the only option is that we have to fight for our rights.”
Responding to the appeal made by leaders of All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee to MPs, many joined the farmers, including MPs Raju Shetty, Tapan Kumar Sen, Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, Ali Anwar, Mohammad Saleem, Jitendra Choudhary, Arvind Sawant, B R Patil, Shailendra Kumar, Mohammad Murtaza, Shankar Dutta, Shri Moti, and Nagendra Pradhan.
Speaking at the event, MP Raju Shetty said, "I campaigned for Narendra Modi, I supported him only because he promised to waive off loans of farmers but later his government gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that waiving off farm loans is not possible. I want to ask him that if this was not possible, why did he make this promise to me and in his election manifesto, to the people of this country.”
MP Sitaram Yechury said, "Along with all of you, I take the pledge to fight for the rights of farmers and I promise you that I am going to take this fight to the Parliament.”
Dr. Sunilam, who moderated today's event, demanded action against the police officers who shot dead 6 farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh.
Sharad Yadav called it a fight of the whole country.
Daughter of a farmer who is studying at an Ashram in Nasik appealed: "Please do not commit suicide. My father did, and here I am, an orphan. Do not commit suicide. Do not leave your children orphan."
Prashant Bhushan said the government was deliberately designing policies that are anti-farmer and pro-corporates.
Yogendra Yadav, one of the most prominent leader and a prime force behind this coalition of various farmer bodies, said: "It is not the farmers who are under debt. Rather, the whole country is under the debt of the farmers."
"The farmers have been giving a subsidy of Rs. 1,50,000 crores to this country and this has been happening since decades so we are not asking for a debt waiver but freedom from debt. It is not the farmer that is indebted to this country but the country that is indebted to the farmers,” the scholar-activist said.
Kisan Mukti Sansad is likely to continue tomorrow. Others who addressed the gathering include Chandrasekhar (VP-AIKMS. Telangana), Sundar Vimlnathan (Secretary-SIRFA-TN), PS Sharda (VP-Swaraj Abhiyan), Lingaraja (Secretary-Western Orissa Farmers Association), Prem Singh Gehlot (Vice President All India Kisan Mahasabha, Haryana), Purushottam Sharma (Secretary All India Kisan Mahasabha, Uttarakhand ), Ishwaree Prasad Kushwaha (Secretary of All India Kisan Mahasaba Uttar Pradesh), Upendra Singh (State President, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan - UP), Hemendra Chaudhary (State Vice President, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan), Bhagat Singh Verma (National President Rashtriya Kisan Mukti Morcha - UP), Ramvir Singh (President Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan - Meerut), Veerpal Singh (District President-Hapur), Zorwar Singh (District President Amroha), Bramhapal Singh (Organizing Secretary-Bulandshahr), Chaman Sinh (District Secretary-Amroha), Ravi Kant Tupakr (Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan-Maharashtra), Dasrath Sawant (Former President-Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan Maharashtra), Professor Prakash Pofle ( President-Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan) Deepak Pagar (President-Uttar Maharashtra Kisan Shetkari Sangathan), Bapusaheb Karande, Sagar Shambhushete (Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan - Kohlapur), Jagdish Inamdar (Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan), Ruldu Singh (National President of Akihil Bharitiya Kisan Mahasabha), and Gurnam Singh (Secretary, Akihil Bharitiya Kisan Mahasabha MP).
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