Lucknow: In response to the state government’s claim that the farmers’ agitation does not have support in rural areas, the protesting farmers under the banner of Uttar Pradesh Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (UPKMM), have launched a hunger strike in villages across the state. They are demanding withdrawal of the Centre's three farm laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP).
According to the umbrella body of 22 regional farmers' unions, a group of five farmers from each village will fast for eight hours daily (from 9 AM to 5 PM) and will also perform nukkad natak (street play) across the state to intensify the agitation and take it to the remote villages by holding meetings on the agriculture laws. The UPKMM said that around 85% of farmers across the country are small and marginal farmers who have no means to come to Delhi for protests and are also facing issues due to rise in cost of production of their crops.
Mukul Tyagi, spokesperson of UPKMM, reportedly said, "The representatives of farmers‘ unions protesting at several borders in Delhi for more than three months have shown no signs of withdrawing their agitation. The government is adamant and no new dates for discussions between the government and farmers’ unions have been declared. So, we have decided to take it further and intensify the protest in villages to mount pressure on the state government. During this village-level agitation, we will connect with farmers and labourers," said Tyagi, adding that the people of 22 organisations involved in the front will work to awaken the farmers.
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He also said that their agitation aims to send a message to those who claimed that the agitation is not farmer-driven but hijacked by vested interests, as per reports.
The farmers’ body, formed on February 23, has also planned that farmers will collect a handful of grain from every house and will hold a 'bhandara' (community kitchen) every week so that they bond with each other.
Surjit Singh, a young farmer from Dadri area who is part of the protest under UPKMM, told NewsClick that the movement was started from March 1 in a few villages including Dadri, Aligarh, Agra and Mathura but it will soon reach other villages. “This will continue till the farmers from each and every village get the decided minimum support price (MSP) for their wheat crop,” he added.
"There are 65,000 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, and even if 20,000 villages from among them take part in the movement, one lakh messages would be sent to the Prime Minister every day,” Singh claimed.