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Monday, June 25, 2018

Back in Delhi, Tamil Nadu farmers find new protest partners

At least 100 Tamil farmers are back in the capital for a second protest stint

Written by Sowmiya Ashok | New Delhi | Updated: July 18, 2017 11:29:23 am
Delhi Tamil Nadu Farmer Protest, Tamil Nadu Farmer Protest, Tamil Nadu Farmer Protest Delhi, TN Farmer Protest Delhi, India News, Indian Express, Indian Express News About 100 farmers protested at Jantar Mantar on Monday. Abhinav Saha

THEY FACE a severe drought in their home state Tamil Nadu, and with it, decimation of their livelihood, mounting debt and poverty. Only, that is not all — they also face the brunt of not being able to communicate their plight to those in positions of power. The solution, they hope, is to say it in a “language the Centre understands”: Hindi. At least 100 Tamil farmers are back in the capital for a second protest stint. But this time, they are backed by the All India Kisan Sangarsh (AIKS) — the face of which is V M Singh, a Hindi-speaking farmer from Uttar Pradesh. Since getting off a train at the New Delhi Railway Station, they have already had a dramatic 24 hours. The farmers were detained at Parliament Street police station

Sunday after attempting to protest outside the PM’s residence. “We were not given food or water. Two people fainted,” said K Ramasamy, a farmer. This time around, their demands include a central drought relief fund, pension for old farmers and profitable prices for agricultural produce. It was P Ayyakannu, a 72-year-old farmer and lawyer from Tiruchi, who put together the Sangarsh coordination committee. “He was the pillar of strength when we met last month at the Gandhi Peace Foundation,” Singh told The Indian Express, on the eve of a large farmer agitation planned at Jantar Mantar. But, Ayyakannu turned down the offer of being the face of the agitation. “They asked me to be the president but I told them I cannot speak Hindi and will end up sitting quietly,” he said. “After pulling off one desperate act after another, we caught the attention of the government in April. But we went back home to nothing: no rains, no livelihood and unfulfilled promises.”

But by the time the farmers left the capital in mid-April after being assured that their demands will be met, what they had, though, were some new friends. After two trips to Delhi since then, Ayyakannu, Singh and others formed a coordination committee for AIKS. Representatives have since visited agitations at Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajashthan, Agra and will reach Delhi on Tuesday morning. “Over 160 farmer organisations have come together,” said Singh. “We have a two-point programme: show solidarity with farmers who have resorted to taking their lives and a complete write-off on loans.”

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