On 20th August 2018 farmers from Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan blocked the traffic on Ganganagar-Delhi Highway. This is part of their agitation against the denial of crop insurance under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana). The blockage of traffic continued till 11 PM in the night.
In the past two months the farmers have been agitating in front of Ramgarh branch of the State Bank of India. Hundreds of farmers are participating in this agitation every day. Farmers whose crop insurance amount was to be deposited in the SBI branches in Ujjalavaas, Bhukhraka, and Gorkhana are demanding that the due amount for the financial year 2016-17 should be remitted into their accounts without further delay.
The agitation is being led by the All India Kisan Sabha. Lok Raj Sangathan and Lok Jan Samiti Ramgarh are extending full support to the struggle of the farmers.
As has been reported in the earlier issues of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar, 1350 farmers from Ramgarh block have been demanding compensation under the crop insurance scheme, but the government has been delaying and denying them their dues giving various excuses. Over 8-10 crore amount of crop insurance has been blocked through nexus between the SBI and the insurance companies.
On 26th June hundreds of farmers encircled the Ramgarh branch of SBI for 24 hours and eventually forced the bank officials and the administration to give a written undertaking that they will settle all the compensation claims by 26th July. But when they did not keep their commitment even till 27th July, thousands of farmers encircled the Ramgarh SBI branch and began an indefinite strike.
On 5th August they locked the gates of the SBI branch for a day. As the agitation is becoming more intense, there are reports that farmers in other regions of Rajasthan are also facing the same situation as in Ramgarh, and they have also been denied their compensation by the banks. In Bhukaraka, 500 farmers have not been given the compensation by SBI. 900 farmers in Gorkaha and 800 in Gandhibaadi have been denied compensation.
Intensifying their agitation the farmers organised a jail bharo agitation on 9th August. Thousands of women and men courted arrest.
On 13th August the farmers encircled the SDM court and held a meeting and resolved that if their demands are not met they will block the highway on 20th August. On the eve of this action, the Administration offered to talk to the farmers and give the compensation, but the farmers refused to believe their empty promises and continued their agitation as planned. The farmers gave time till 2 pm for the administration to respond, and then they started their action and blocked the highway.
Thousands of women and men farmers sat on the highway braving intense heat. They set up fireplaces (chulhas) and prepared tea and meals for the agitating farmers.
Shaken up by the determination of the farmers, the sub-divisional officer of Nohar, police commissioner, and Tehsildar came to the site at 11 AM and announced that the area general manager of the SBI has given a written undertaking that the compensation amount will be deposited into the accounts of the farmers within 10 days.
Along with thousands of women and men farmers from the district leader of Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Nohar, Comrade Balwan Puniya, comrade Kuldeep Bhambhu, district secretary comrade Vinod Swami, joint secretary Rohtas Solanki, District Council member Mangej Chaudhari, Vice President and member of All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma, LRS member and former sarpanch of Ujjwalavaas Om Sahu, Maniram Lakesar, Dr Krishna Nokhwal, and Kanhaiyya Lal Jain participated daily in the agitation. Members and office bearers of Lok Jan Samiti Ramgarh are also participating actively. Balram Bhambhu, Comrade Niyamat Ali, former Panchayat Samiti Member of Bhaadra Sunita Puniya, Srimati Savitri Devi, Balwant Bhambhu, and Ramamurti Bhambhu are also participating.
Such cases of denials of compensation are surfacing across the entire region and farmers are agitated. When the banks are asked for compensation they, in collaboration with the Insurance companies, come up with excuses to deny the farmers their due. This clearly shows that there is a deliberate attempt by the bank and insurance companies, so that they can loot the amount. Farmers are coming to the conclusion that the Prime Minister’s crop insurance scheme is meant to fatten the banks and insurance companies and not to provide relief to the crisis-hit farmers.