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Jantar Mantar witnesses thousands of farmers as Jai Kisan rally reaches Delhi

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By Ishan Kukreti

IMG_0099More than a thousand farmers from all over the country thronged the protest space at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on Monday as the Jai Kisan rally finally arrived here.

Jai Kisan Andolan, which is a part of Yogendra Yadav’s and Prashant Bhushan’s Swaraj Abhiyan, saw farmers from various states including, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc gather at Jantar Mantar to let the government know of their anger.

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“The essence of Jai Kisan Andolan is to fight for the rights of the farmers. We will not let the farmers’ homes be destroyed,” former AAP member and the founding member of Swaraj Abhiyan, Yogendra Yadav summed up the totality of the moment from the stage. The number of farmers present and hundreds of pots filled with soil as a token of support from those absent did give an authority to Yadav’s words.

The Jai Kisan rally which kicked off on August 1 from Barnala, Punjab with more than five thousand farmers, travelled through Punjab, Haryana and eastern Uttar Pradesh before entering Delhi through Gurgaon, after facing a minor debacle with the police on the border.

Farmers with as diverse problems as better irrigation facilities to compensation for crop failure due to heavy rain found a common platform through the Jai Kisan Movement to raise their voice.

“There have been more than 1,100 farmer deaths in Telangana over the last year but the government is refusing to acknowledge that. We want the government to accept the problem and do something about it,” said Navin from Telangana.

IMG_0159“We want the government to provide muavza (compensation) to those who have suffered due to the heavy rains,” demanded excited Gurmeet Singh from Haryana.

IMG_0149“Bhumi adhiveshan nahi hona chahiye (There shouldn’t be land acquisition)” said a confused farmer from Rajasthan.

IMG_0093“Indian political set up is not looking into the rights, justice and dignity of the farmers. Swaraj Movement will consolidate all agrarian agitation, all problems of the farmers. The nation cannot progress unless the farmers progress. Without them, the idea of India as a superpower is a joke,” said Pankaj Pushkar, AAP MLA from Timarpur and a supporter of Swaraj Abhiyan.

While each section of farmers hailing from different states had different sets of problems, an undercurrent of suspicion and frustration with the present government ran though everyone’s grievances.

Although the involvement of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan can be deemed a political joomla given their history, the farmers who swarmed to the national capital with anger in one eye and hope in the other are clear signs that the Modi government has much to worry about. IMG_0145

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Madhya Pradesh Waives off $5.3Bn in Farm Debt

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year.

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India, farmers, farm
Farmers march towards the parliament house during a rally to protest soaring farm operating costs and plunging prices of their produce, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The new leader of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to waive up to $5.3 billion of farm loans, becoming the latest area to offer relief ahead of a national election next year as farmers reel from losses caused by falling crop prices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lost the central state to Congress last week dealing Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014 and boosting the opposition ahead of the vote next year.

Congress leader Kamal Nath, who became chief minister of the state on Monday, decided to write off farmers’ loans up to 200,000 rupees, according to a notification.

farmers, Bank
Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Protests on the rise

Farmers’ protests have been rising in past months due to the fall in crop prices and a rise in the cost of diesel and fertilizer.

Nearly 3.4 million farmers will benefit from the loan waiver, which is likely to cost between 350 billion rupees ($4.9 billion) to 380 billion rupees ($5.3 billion), Rajesh Rajora, the state’s principal secretary for agriculture, told Reuters.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Modi Government of Betraying Farmers

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year. (VOA)