Hundreds of peasants’ organisations and many organisations fighting to protect the interest of working people have called for a rally in New Delhi on 18 July 2017. The rally has been called to demand that the government takes necessary steps to address the crisis that is devastating the lives of peasants across the country.
On the fourth day of Kisan Mukti Yatra,
A yatra has been organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) to highlight the plight of the peasants and mobilise support for the rally. The yatra was to begin on 6 July from Budha in Mandsaur district in MP, marking exactly one month of the police firing in which six farmers died. It is to pass through various cities and towns in MP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP and Haryana before it arrives at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on 18 July.
Peasants are facing a severe crisis of livelihood. Increasingly, the nature of the State’s intervention is being reformed to suit the aggressive global expansionist drive of the monopoly houses. Support to the peasantry has been completely withdrawn and they are being told to fend for themselves in the market. Peasants are demanding that all their produce should be procured at remunerative prices. They are demanding that the government should ensure quick procurement of their produce at 1.5 times the cost of production and make immediate payments. They are also demanding that they should be liberated from the debt trap they have fallen into by a one-time loan waiver.
The extent of the crisis faced by the peasantry can be judged from a small sample of some of the protests reported in the media since the beginning of this year. In March, farmers in Jalandhar, Punjab dumped potatoes on National Highway 1 to protest against the low prices of their produce. They also protested against delay in receiving payments as well as against insufficient procurement by the state agencies. In June 2017, 62 farmers' unions in Haryana organised a protest and jammed the national highways for three hours using their tractors to demand payment of the minimum support prices (MSP). Tomato farmers in Himachal Pradesh protested against the low prices for their produce. In Kota, Rajasthan where 90% of India's garlic grows, farmers came out on the streets to demand MSP for the garlic crop. In Western UP farmers protested low procurement by the government and low market prices. In Jharkhand farmers protested against state government agencies not having paid them for even last year’s procurement, amounting to Rs. 28 crores. Gujarat farmers are protesting against below -MSP prices for groundnut and cotton. Last month, the farmers jammed the state agriculture minister's telephone line as part of their protest. In Maharashtra and MP, farmers have been protesting low rates for their crops like soyabean, wheat, arhar dal, onion, potatoes. Maharashtra farmers had given a call to boycott all agricultural produce markets to press for their demands. In Chhattisgarh, farmers are demanding an increase in the MSP for paddy. In January, they had protested in Raipur by distributing one lakh kg of vegetables for free to protest the low prices. Angry about the lack of paddy procurement, Odisha farmers are joining the nationwide stir. In Telangana the chilli farmers set fire to their crops in Khammam district due to low prices in the market. Tamil Nadu farmers held a long dharna in Delhi to demand compensation for 50 lakh acres worth of paddy crop damaged by the drought in the last few years. In many places like in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Himachal and other places farmers have protested against lack of cold storage facilities, which forces them to sell their produce at low prices.
It is clear that the peasantry is not willing to put up with the attacks on their livelihood. They are organising to come together from various states to send a clear message to the rulers. The response of the various governments has been to rain lathis and bullets on them. The peasants are determined to take the struggle forward in the face of such brutal attacks.