Tamil Nadu farmers relaunch protest in Chennai as govt fails to fulfill promises

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Tamil Nadu farmers

Even a month after they suspended their protest in New Delhi, the state government has not fulfilled the promises

After the farmers’ protests in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu farmers who grabbed national attention through the novel, and often shocking, forms of protest in New Delhi two months ago have resumed their agitation in Chennai on Friday protesting the state government’s failure to fulfil its promises.

About 200 farmers clad in green dhoti and saris started their indefinite protest at Chepauk seeking loan waiver, drought relief package, and pension for aged farmers. The farmers began their agitation holding candle lights to express their condolences to six farmers killed in MP police firing and to show their solidarity with the protesting farmers.

“We called off our protest in New Delhi after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami met with us and assured to fulfil our demands. But none of the demands have been fulfilled. We will protest till the government fulfils our demands,” said National South Indian River Linking Agriculturist Association president P Ayyakannu, the farmer who spearheaded the Jantar Mantar agitation.

He criticised the Tamil Nadu government for going against a recent Madras High Court directive asking it to extend farm loan waiver to all categories of farmers. “The CM promised us that they will not appeal against the High Court order. But now they have moved the Supreme Court,” he said.

“We will be here for 32 days and we will continue to sit here if the problem is not solved by then. We will expand agitation all over India,” Ayyakannu said. Accusing the Centre and the state government of failing to address the demands the farmers, he said, “We condemn the bullets firing at farmers who are the backbone of our nation. Soon there will be a nationwide protest and for this, we have the special meeting on June 16 at Delhi.”

One common thread that linked all the farmers sitting in protest at Chepauk was their mounting farm loans taken from the nationalised banks. For instance, Nachiamma, one of the women protestor, said she took Rs 3 lakh loan pledging her gold jewels to dig deep borewells to irrigate her three acres land. “I had repaid Rs 1.5 lakh. After successive crop failure over the last four year, the loan amount is now Rs 7 lakh with interest and penalties,” she said.

K. Muthukumar from Pulivalam in Tiruchirappalli said that the mismatch between the input cost and selling price is one of the major reason for the farmers facing losses. “I had cultivated Red Gram in five acres of land and spent Rs 1 lakh during the course of 110 days. But I got only Rs 26,000 for the produce,” he said, wondering how he would be able to repay the loan.

Farmer Gunasekaran, who has taken Rs 2.15 lakh loan pledging gold jewels, said the bank managers keep on threatening to recover the loans. “As they impose penalties for non-repayment of loans and interest on it, the loan amount is getting doubled or treble,” he said, adding that the central government was even refusing to direct the bank at least not to recover loans or impose penalties on drought-hit farmers.

The farmers had grabbed headlines for their unique and sometimes bizarre methods of protest during the 41-day long stay in the national capital. Adorned with human skulls around their necks, the farmers attempted to grab the attention of authorities towards their condition and demands for drought relief package.

…& ANALYSIS

Tamil Nadu farmers’ protests at Jantar Mantar last month had got wide attention, mostly due to their bizarre nature.

The state government hasn’t been able to fulfil the promises made to them, maybe due to the consistent political upheaval in TN politics. Farmers’ anger may spill over leading up to law and order issues.

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