Hundreds of farmers from Naujhil town of Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh, are staging a sit-in demonstration to seek government's attention to a slew of issues ranging from the non-payment of their dues under PM-KISAN scheme to the damage of their crops by stray cattle. The protest entered fourth day on Thursday. The agitating farmers have also threatened to convert the protest into a massive movement if their demands are not met.
The farmers have been on strike from December 2 to push their demand of the payment of the dues. Initially, farmers had gathered for a panchayat organised to discuss their issues and find ways to tackle them. At the meeting, they decided to launch an indefinite sit-in demonstration immediately.
The protesters also said that unless Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visits them and devises methods to solve their problems, they will continue the agitation.
Speaking to NewsClick, Bharatiya Kisan Kalyan Samiti Chief Ram Babu Katelia, who is also leading the sit-in demonstration, said, “After stray cattle menace, the state government has promised to make an annual payment of Rs 6,000 to farmers in three instalments under PM-KISAN yojana. Months have passed since this announcement, but not a single farmer from our area has got any payment under this scheme. We approached several government officers, but no one paid any heed. It seems like it was another jumla of the BJP government.”
Katelia added, "Problems caused by stray cattle are proving to be a great menace for our crops. The Yogi Adityanath government is taking farmers for a ride. When the government failed to run shelters, the government, within a year, passed their burden on to the farmer. When we started taking care of the stray cattle, keeping in mind that we will get some amount for it, the government is back-tracking."
As number of incidents of cattle deaths are increasing in Uttar Pradesh shelters for the past two years, the Adityanath government had decided to give Rs 30 per day to individuals/farmers or organisations that are prepared to take care of the stray cattle. This comes to around Rs 900 per month, supposed to be deposited into the beneficiary's account through direct benefit transfer. But farmers have claimed that they have not received even a single rupee as per the announcement.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has slammed the state government for its fake promises. Dharmendra Malik, national spokesperson of BKU, told NewsClick, "This is what happens when the government makes policies and takes decisions without studying the issues in-depth. The stray cattle menace is adversely impacting the rural economy in a big way, but no one is ready to speak against the decision. Because then you will be labelled anti-government, anti-cow and even anti-national.”
Another issue raised by farmers was the steep hike in power tariff coupled with a drastic cut on the number of hours of the electricity supply in villages.
Meanwhile, officials including the deputy collector have spoken to the farmers and assured them that their demands will be fulfilled. However, the farmers have refused to budge. They said that they will end the protest only when they receive the assurance in writing.