Thousands of farmers from across India have gathered in Delhi for a massive march on Thursday and Friday.
Different groups of farmers — from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states — marched on four different routes in the national capital, starting at three major railway stations Anand Vihar, Nizamuddin and Bijwasan and at Sabzi Mandi. Their final destination was the Ramlila grounds in the evening.
Huffpost India spoke to some protesters about why they were attending the march. Most of them said they wanted to show support to the farmers and were unhappy with the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre for ignoring them and not keeping his promises. They said that they wanted the government at the Centre to take their agitation seriously. Here are some of those voices.
An activist from the Bhandara district of Maharashtra, Borkar said he had come to Delhi because the political establishment of India was conspiring to destroy agriculture sector in India. "It is time to have a serious discussion on farmers issues now and the government should take it seriously because our anna data is in trouble now."
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Major NS Verma
Major NS Verma, a former Army person came to the march to show support to the farmers. He said the Army had been protesting for their demands but "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cheated them". He says he has scratched out 'ji' after the prime ministers from the placard he is holding as a mark of protest.
A leader of Congress's unorganised labour wing in Maharashtra and a resident of Pune, Prabhune said he was at the farmers protest as a young citizen of India who is in support of the farmers. "Society has forgotten farmers. Many think loan waivers and other announcements for farmers are pampering the farmers but that's not the case. Farmers are facing a crisis on every front. It's time to stand up for them," he said.
Hari Singh is a farmer from Haryana's Rewari. He owns five acres of land and grows wheat in his farmland. He said he was disappointed that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government did not keep its promise of one-and-a-half time minimum support price (MSP) for farmers produce. "Bhav milna chahiye (We should get good price for our produce)," he said. "We want at least Rs 4000 MSP for wheat... now we are getting only Rs 1850 which is less than even the cost of production."
Raju Rode and Sanjay Lende
Sanjay Lende and Raju Rode (left) are farmers from the Sanganer tehsil of the Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. They said the camp they stayed in last night was full of mosquitos. "But they refused to bite us as they knew we are farmers and no blood is left in our bodies to be sucked," said Lende.
Meanwhile, Rode blamed himself because he voted for the BJP and he trusted Modi's promise of an increased minimum support price for farmers. "We were fools to have believed him. Where are the achche din [good days]?" When asked where will they eat tonight Rode said, "Doesn't matter. We have stayed without food for weeks. But this farmers march is important. We will stay hungry today but we will stay put at Ramlila Maidan tonight."
Parpu Singh and Baljit Singh
Parpu Singh and Baljit Singh, from Patiala in Punjab, said every government has cheated the farmers in last 70 years. "Modi promised Swaminathan Commission will be implemented but backtracked after coming to power. The commission's implementation would have helped farmers," they said. On the perception that Punjab is considered a leading agriculture state they said, "Only farms have remained, farmers are vanishing. Four farmers commit suicide every day in Punjab. The Congress ruled Punjab government also made many promises but backtracked now. This march is important because we have come knocking on its doors with our demands and it can't ignore us anymore."