Indian Farmers Begin Siege in Nashik

Protesting farmers besiege a busy junction in Nashik
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About 10 million Indian farmers occupy the CBS Chowk in Nashik, Maharashtra demanding debt and drought relief…..reports Asian Lite News

Protesting farmers besiege a busy junction in Nashik
Protesting farmers besiege a busy junction in Nashik

Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS), an organisation associated with Communist Party of India (Marxist), is leading the protest. Over 3000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2015. The protesters are demanding remunerative prices for farm produce and farmland for the adivasi community.
CPM general secretary MP Sitaram Yechury, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha general secretary Hunnan Maula, senior journalist P. Sainath, veteran trade union leader Dr D.L. Karad and other leaders were in the city.
Mr Yechury criticised the union and state governments for their inaction on farmers and adivasi issues.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury addressing the protesting farmers in Nashik
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury addressing the protesting farmers in Nashik

“The government waives off the loans of capitalists but not of farmers. The Maharashtra government has no scheme to waive off the debts of farmers,” he said. “The current rate of wheat is Rs 1,150 per quintal while the production cost is Rs 1,800. The government should stop importing wheat and should give a remunerative price of Rs 2,400 per quintal for wheat,” he added.

Mr Yechury stated that 99 per cent adivasis in Mizoram had got farms. “In Maharashtra too, the adivasis should get their land,” he asserted.

Mr Yechury said that the voice of the youth was being stifled and enmity was being promoted between two communities. The major demands are complete waiver of all loans and electricity bills of farmers, remunerative prices for farm produce, water, fodder and work in drought areas, minimum `50,000 per acre compensation for crop losses, among others.

Ashok Dhawale, a leader of the farmers, said the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra are against farmers. In his pre-election speeches, Prime Minister Modi had assured implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s report.

“After coming to power, it (government) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that giving this price to farmers was not feasible,” Dhawale said.

Besides, there is no talk of giving farm loan waiver, which is estimated at around Rs.8 lakh crore across India and Rs.39,000 crore in Maharashtra.

“In the last two union budgets, the Modi regime showered corporates with tax concessions of Rs.12 lakh crore.

“Vijay Mallya, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka with BJP support, is allowed to flee the country though he has fleeced banks of over Rs.9,000 crore,” Dhawale said.

Citing statistics, he said that in 2015, as many as 3,228 debt-hit farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra, with the maximum in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

Since 1995, a record 65,000 farmers have ended their lives in the state, making it a “graveyard for farmers”, he said.

Besides Yechury, AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah and journalist P. Sainath shall also address the rally.

The rally will mark the culmination of a six-month agitation by MRKS which included public meetings, awareness campaigns, loan-waiver conventions, road blocks, processions and ‘jail bharo’ with the participation of thousands of farmers across Maharashtra.