Farmers' Protest: Nearly 8,000 farmers marched in central Delhi.
New Delhi: Thousands of farmers demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce started a march towards parliament today under heavy security after camping overnight at Ramlila ground, where they had gathered yesterday from different parts of the country. With the massive two-day protest months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government sees re-election, the farmers hope to be heard in the capital. The protesters, backed by the Left and a number of farmer groups, marched for more than 25 km from five different locations towards Ramlila Maidan yesterday. Over 3,500 policemen are on alert in central Delhi, where traffic has been restricted for the march. Here is your 10-point cheatsheet on Kisan Mukti March:
- The marching farmers were stopped at Jantar Mantar which has been a popular site for protests in the capital.
- Traffic was affected in several parts of central Delhi as nearly 8,000 farmers began their march from the Ramlila ground this morning. Delhi Traffic Police is tweeting live updates on the route taken by the farmers and asked commuters to stay updated.
- Farmers from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reached Delhi on Thursday and spent the night at the Ramlila ground.
- A group of women from Telangana, whose farmer husbands committed suicide, hung pictures of their men around the neck as they marched on the streets of Delhi.
- Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India led a 26-km protest rally from Bijwasan to Ramlila Maidan on Thursday. Farmers from Odisha, Haryana and Rajasthan joined him. "We are protesting loot and exploitation of farmers. The entire country is with us. Journalists, doctors, students, artists have pledged their support," he said.
- The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee or AIKSCC, the umbrella body for farmers' groups, demanded a special session of parliament to pass bills seeking a loan waiver and better prices for crops. It said 21 political parties have extended their support to the bills. It has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the protest march. Today's rally is the fourth major farmers rally led by the organisation in the last year and a half, which represents over 200 groups.
- At the 'Kisan Night' organised to lift the spirits of the farmers, one of the performers sang, "Ab haq ke bina bhi kya jeena, yeh jeene ke samaan nahi (Life has no meaning without rights)."
- Veteran journalist P Sainath who spent time with the farmers last night pointed out to what he called a larger agrarian crisis. "What you are witnessing in the country is bigger than a drought. The farm suicide data has not been published in the last two years. The figures stopped at 2015," he told NDTV.
- Social activist Medha Patkar said many political leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, are expected to participate in the rally. National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Trinamool Congress' Dinesh Trivedi, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav were among the others who were expected to address the farmers.
- Weak farm prices and growing agrarian distress are threatening to hurt the ruling BJP as it faces a critical test in the elections in five states ahead of general elections next year.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS and ANI)