Tamil Nadu Farmers including men and women have been making headlines since they reached Delhi with their innovative protest ideas. They have tried various means of protest, from using skulls, live mice and dead snakes, to shaving half of their heads and facial hair, to get the attention of the government. At least 84 drought-hit farmers from Tamil Nadu launched the ‘skull protest’ at Jantar Mantar on 15th march 2017.
They started walking straight to the Prime Ministers residence on Race Course Road to communicate their woes and submit their demands . But they were stopped by the cops, and brought to Jantar Mantar where they have been sitting till date. From then onward till date they have used variety of different symbols and mediums to carry on their protest and make centre understand their demand.
Initially this was mere protest but sooner it transformed into scary protest as they carried begging bowls as a symbol of their state today in drought hit Tamil Nadu, the farmers bare chested sat with Namam (cheated one) drawn all over their bodies. Farmers said that with their livelihood taken away, they would be forced to eat mice. Few farmers sat with human skulls strung together to focus attention on the suicide of farmers. Two young farmers climbed a tree close to the protest venue, threatening to commit suicide but the police and the fire department intervened to stop this.
The Tamil community in Delhi has been extending their support to the agitating farmers from their home state. Meanwhile, celebrities such as Vishal and Prakash Rai visited the agitators to express their solidarity with their cause.
Natarajan, a farmer from the Karur district in Tamil Nadu said “We still have loans from nationalised banks. I had taken a loan of around Rs 2 lakh. Now, with interest it is around Rs 5 lakh. I can’t afford to pay it back. My crops were ruined in the drought and the cyclone. I have no money.”
Murugan,37, a farmer from village MulliPatti of Sri Rangam Taluk in ThiruchiraPalli district told “I could not pay back the loans to the bank and I am under tremendous pressure.”
Shiva Kumar, 45, resident of Kalvirayan Pettai from Thanjavur district says, “I have been jobless as I could not cultivate my land because of the water crisis. I mortgaged the family jewels against crop loans at the bank. But I could not pay back the loans and have lost everything.”
A woman farmer Sellammal, 45, from village Thandalai Puthur of Musiri Taluk in ThiruchiraPalli district, says, “my family is in distress and on the verge of committing suicide. We have lost everything, and are not able to pay back our loans.”
The Tamil Nadu government has demanded Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre for drought-hit farmers. However, according to the farmers, the Centre has allocated just Rs 2,000 crore so far. The protesting farmers claim that there has been no outcome even after meetings with the Finance Minister, Home Minister, Agriculture Minister. They say that they have received assurances that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get in touch with them but that has not yet happened.
The farmers have been protesting in the capital even as the temperature continues to rise. The South Indian community in the national capital has been helping them with food and ration. The farmers refuse to budge till their demands are met.
The farmers demands:
- Declare Tamil Nadu as a drought hit state.
- Stop the desertification of Tamil Nadu and the regular release of water in the Cauvery River
- Ban the dam building activity of Karnataka on the upper stream of Cauvery at Megadhathu
- Establish a Cauvery Management Authority and Cauvery Water Sharing Board as per the Supreme Court order
- Create a National Water Grid by linking of rivers of North with Southern rivers
- Provide a fair and profitable price for agricultural farm products
- Provide Rs 40,000 crores as part of drought relief measures for the farmers and peasants of Tamil Nadu
- Set a pension of Rs 5,000 for famers even if they have children and land Waive all kinds of farm loans from nationalised, private and cooperative banks.