THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 22 MAY, 2018
NEW DELHI: A campaign for the signature of 10 crore farmers across India will culminate on August 9 with a “Quit India” call to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Large rallies will be held across India’s district headquarters with the farmers handing over the signatures to the respective District Collectors with a demand that BJP Quit India on the anniversary of Gandhi’s movement.
All India Kisan Sabha leader Ashok Dhawale told The Citizen that just as Gandhi had asked the British to Quit India in 1942, marking the start of the movement, the farmers will ask the RSS and the BJP to do the same. The signatures will endorse six demands of loan waivers remunerative prices Forest Rights Act implementation, anti- land acquistion, pension for low and middle farmers and a comprehensive insurance scheme.
Dhawale said that the private insurance companies under the Prime Ministers scheme had completely rooked the farmers. He said that a study by the AIKS confirmed that of the premium due, the farmers had been paid only three per cent last year with 97% being pocketed by the insurance companies.
At any given point in a month the farmers are on the roads in one or the other state, struggling to get their rights that currently include loan waivers, remunerative prices and land rights at the top of their priority list of demands. Even as the voices of mango farmers in Maharashtra agitating against land being acquired for global top oil producer Saudi Aramco are filtering across the thick barriers of government shields and media control, thousands of farmers are coming together to gherao all government buildings in their respective tehsil and district headquarters for justice and rights on June 1. This is the anniversary of the farmers long and successful struggle at the same time last year.
This will move into June 5 when dairy farmers across the entire Western Maharashtra belt will be marching “on” the residence of the state Animal Husbandry Minister Mahadev Jankar to ask him who is skimming the cream from the milk with remunerative prices that had the dairy farmers pouring out milk on the streets in protest not so long ago. The remunerative price for milk is at Rs 27 a litre, the farmers receive just Rs 17 a litre, the milk is sold in the market at Rs 42-45 per litre in Maharashtra. Who then is skimming the cream, is the question that the farmers are demanding an answer to.
The numbers are being added to by the thousands in Maharashtra alone. The refinery cleared by the government is being opposed by thousands of farmers in this mango orchard belt in the Ratnagiri district. Land acquisition remains a huge issue now in rural India with the farmers being forced to give up their land for such large scale projects, and not receiving the compensation either.
Over 15000 acres have been defined for acquisition for the Saudi refinery. The strong protest has prevented the Fadnavis government from acquiring even a single acre of the land so earmarked. Surveyors have been blocked by the farmers from even measuring the land. Here the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is active in mobilising the farmers and had vandalised government offices earlier this year, protesting against the attempt to acquire the land.
Rajasthan has an ongoing farmers movement, with huge protests being seen in this state as well over the past year in particular. Loan waivers and land acquisition are major issues here with drought and debts driving the farmers to suicide. In October last year the farmers buried themselves in sand with just their heads above the holes they had dug for themselves just outside Jaipur. They were protesting against the Rajasthan governments decision to acquire their land for a housing project.
In Sikar early this year thousands of farmers took over the Jaipur-Sikar highway and adjoining areas in what turned into a peoples movement supporting their demand for loan waiver and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report.