Hyderabad: Farmer organisations and trade unions jointly organised protest demonstrations across districts and mandal centres in Telangana on Saturday, marking the ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Diwas’ called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation of farmers’ group leading the ongoing farmers’ movement at the Delhi’s borders against the three new farm laws and the electricity amendment Bill.
“The ongoing farmers’ struggle is as significant as that of the freedom movement but the BJP-led Central government is trying to suppress the protests despite numerous failed attempts. Farmers’ are determined that they will not allow corporates to dictate to Indian agriculture,” said T Sagar, general secretary of Telangana Rythu Sangham, during a press meet during a protest demonstration near Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in Hyderabad. Members of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Telangana Girijana Sangam, Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi (KVPS) and agriculture workers union also participated in the protest.
According to the farmers’ groups, similar protests by workers and peasant groups were held in all mandal and district headquarters on Saturday.
Telangana Rythu Sangham (All India Kisan Sabha), Rythu Swarajya Vedika, agriculture workers’ unions and tenant farmers’ unions are among the organisations leading farmers’ protests in Telangana since the past three months.
While organising these protests, the farmers’ bodies have also been conducting ‘yatras’ and campaigns explaining to farming communities about the problems with the three farm laws that open the gates for private players in the agriculture sector while long-pending concerns of farmers’ remain undressed.
“Why has the state and Central governments failed to address farmer suicides in the country?” said Sagar, adding that the government was deliberately not implementing the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
“Farmer suicides are linked with farm loans. The government must frame a legislation to address the debt crisis among poor farmers,” he added.
Farmers’ organisations estimate that about 350 tenant farmers have died of distress suicides in the past two years in Telangana. As many as 5,912 farmers died by suicide between 2014 and 2019 in the state, of which 1,478 were tenant farmers.
“Over 300 farmers have sacrificed their lives in the ongoing farmers’ struggle but the Narendra Modi government is not even acknowledging the farmers’ concerns,” said T Skylab Babu of KVPS.
He said: “Members of tribal and dalit organisations will join in large numbers to support the farmers’ agitation from March 1.”
Sree Ram Naik of Telangana Girijana Sangham said lakhs of tribal families, who are dependent on agriculture in Telangana, are irked with the new farm laws.
“Tribal and dalit communities are grossly neglected under the regimes of BJP and TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti). In Telangana, nearly a lakh applications of land titles claimed by tribals have been pending at various government level offices under the Forest Rights Act, 2005 (FRA) Further, thousands of adivasi families are yet to file applications for claiming rights over Podu Act under FRA,” said Naik. He said the farm laws would take away the livelihood of landless tenant farmers and agriculture labourers.
Telangana has also been witnessing isolated protests as farmers are agitated over non-realisation of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops including turmeric, white jowar and paddy among other crops.
“Farmers groups and trade unions have campaigned across all villages, including tribal hamlets, asking farmers and agriculture workers to participate in the agitation against the three farm laws,” said Bhaskar of CITU.
He said: “Farmers are set to oppose the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal,” adding that the movement will only intensify until the farm laws are scrapped.