Hyderabad: Thousands of women farmers’ in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana participated in massive rallies and protest demonstrations on Monday, January 18, celebrating Mahila Kisan Divas as part of the ongoing nationwide farmers’ movement demanding the scrapping of new farm laws.
“We are worried that the government procurement centres will be weakened if the new farm laws are implemented. Citing the laws brought in by the central government, the Telangana state government has recently announced the closure of new paddy procurement centres set up last year. We want the laws made for increasing the profits of corporates be scrapped,” said 45-year-old Bichalli, a woman farmer in Nalgonda, who joined the protest rally in the district. She added that new farm laws do not address the problems being faced by the farmers.
As earlier planned by the farmers’ organisations, women farmers joined by women’s organisations participated in rallies across district and mandal head quarters in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
According to farmers’ organisations, about 70% of women population in rural areas of Telugu speaking states work in the agriculture sector.
Sarampally Mallareddy of All India Kisan Sabha said that with the increase in mechanisation in agriculture, lakhs of male farmers from villages migrated to cities in search of other forms of work while the number of women farmers had increased. “Agriculture is the main source of income for lakhs of the rural women who take up various kinds of agricultural work from sowing to harvesting,” he added.
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Since the farmers' protests began on November 26, there have been continuous protests, public meetings and massive rallies in Telugu states as farmers have been joined by workers, opposition political parties and other mass organisations.
“About 300 women farmers participated in a massive rally in Khammam. Many women farmers without any association with farmers’ organisations have voluntarily joined the rally. This symbolic protest has given strength to the ongoing farmers’ protests,” said B Prasad, President of Telangana Agriculture Workers’ Union.
In Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, a joint platform of women and farmers’ organisations held a massive rally from the old bus stand to Lenin centre in the city. The rally was followed by a public meeting. Speaking at the meeting, P Durga Bhavani, state general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said that the women farmers in the state will also hold tractor rallies on January 26.
In Ongole city of Prakasam district, 30 women farmers participated in the ongoing relay hunger strike in front of the collectorate office there.
Massive rallies were held in Anantapur, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh. Hundreds of women farmers also joined the protest site near Dharna Chowk in Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, the ‘Rythu Jatha’ bus rally by the Telangana Rythu Sangham has entered its 18th day. As part of the programme, farmer leaders are travelling to numerous villages across districts in Telangana and campaigning against the farm laws.
“In Telangana and Andhra, the landless tenant farmers and their families are participating in everyday protests. The farmers’ movement is spread across remote villages despite the central government’s attempts to suppress the protests. Farmers will fight until the three farm laws are scrapped,” said Mallareddy.