Over 50,000 farmers from across the country have converged on the Capital today to demand complete debt waiver and better prices for their produce. Those participating include over 100 families of farmers who committed suicide in the recent past due to unpayable debt and economic losses.
The huge and energetic gathering which first assembled at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi marched down to Parliament Street, near the Parliament of India, where they were stopped by police barricades. Shouting slogans like ‘kisan ki loot nahin chalegi’ (plunder of farmers will not be allowed) and ‘kisanon ko karza mukti deni hogi’ (debt of farmers will have to be waived) the colorfully dressed farmers, carrying flags of different hues, stunned onlookers in the national Capital. It is rare for metropolitan India to see a slice of rural India marching on the streets, demanding attention from policy makers.
The two-day Kisan Mukti Sansad (Farmers’ Freedom Parliament) has been organized by a front of over 180 organisations called the All India Kisan Sangharsh coordination Committee (AIKSCC). It was preceded by a 10,000 kilometer long Kisan Mukti Yatra (Farmers’ Freedom Journey) that crisscrossed the country mobilizing and consolidating farmers’ discontent against their precarious economic conditions.
In the course of the sansad proceedings, the assembled families of farmers who committed suicide will speak to the gathered farmers. They will also debate and pass two “draft Bills” on complete debt waiver and minimum support prices based on the formula cost price+50%, as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission. The farmers are demanding that all debt – from public as well as private sources – should be waived by the government.
As reported earlier, data from this agricultural season shows that farmers suffered a total loss of over Rs.2 lakh crore due to low prices given to them for their produce according to calculations done by AIKSCC. This loss, suffered in every agricultural season, is one of the key reasons why over 51% of farmers are indebted in India with an average debt of over Rs.70,000 per household, as per NSSO survey reports.