Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy: Ground Reality
Farmers from Hisar, Haryana are planning to launch a stir after Bhiwani District Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank put up posters of 50 farmers who were unable to repay their loans accumulated over the years. The poster displayed the name of the farmers and their photographs with an appeal in vernacular to other banks and financial institutions to refrain from granting any loan to them. The posters also stated that the loan instalments have not been deposited for past many years by the farmers. The posters have elicited sharp reactions from the irate farmers who have called this as an “act of naming and shaming.”
Lately, scanty rainfall has wreaked havoc in Haryana resulting in crop failure. As per the data accessed by NewsClick, it has been found that there has been a 20 per cent decline in the sowing of Kharif crops, including rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oil seeds, sugar cane, jute and cotton until June 2018. As per the figures, until June 29, 2018, the area sown stands at 16.52 hectares as compared to 210.75 lakh hectares during the same time in 2017. It should be noted that almost 42 per cent of the city has received scanty rainfall this year resulting crop failures. However, this is not the first time that the farmers have been shamed publicly through posters.
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Speaking with NewsClick, Inderjeet of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said, “This has been repeatedly happening, particularly in this region. For long, crop failures have become a common phenomenon. Due to the crop failures, farmers are unable to repay the loans. In fact, for past many years farmers have been facing drought like conditions, aggravating their problems. The publishing of such kind of posters is really shocking, condemnable and unacceptable. Such actions can push the farmers to suicide. That’s why our demand is that there should be a total exemption of the farm loans. In this same country, lakhs of rupees are plundered by the corporates and despite the repeated directions of Central Information Commissioner, they are not revealing the names of those big defaulters who are not returning the money taken by the nationalised banks.”
This act by the bank has come at a time when India is facing huge agrarian crisis. Last month, nearly 1 lakh farmers had come out on the streets to register their protest against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. The farmers demands included debt relief, and remunerative prices for their produce. As per a report by The Indian Express, more than 53 per cent of farmers in Haryana have failed to repay their farm loans, out of which 88.66 per cent of the defaulter farmers are small and marginal farmers who own 0-5 acres of land.
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“No government has worked for us – be it Congress or BJP. But during the BJP tenure, our problems have escalated and it seems they don’t really want to solve it. Our crops are damaged and nobody is ready to listen to us,” said a woman who owns 4 acres of land and has an outstanding loan of 4 lakhs. In 2014, the then Hooda government had announced that zero per cent interest will be given to those farmers who will return their loan on time. But, later it was revealed that the policy only applied to those who had first cleared their outstanding loans.
The farmers are upset with the current government who they think is not paying any heed to their problems. They have resolved to protest against the bank and the larger issue of debt relief.
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