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Farmers rally for loan waiver, detained in Delhi

IANS | New Delhi |

Over 500 farmers held a protest rally in the national capital on Monday to condemn the anti-farmer policies of the BJP government and killing of six farmers in police firing in Madhya Pradesh last month.

They also pressed their demand of adequate remuneration for crop produce and loan waiver.

The Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM), an umbrella body of 62 farmers' organisations, held protest march from Jantar Mantar to the Niti Aayog office but they were stopped midway and detained by the police.

The farmers, who were predominantly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanded that the Narendra Modi government fulfil its electoral promise of 50 per cent profit above the production cost and implementation of recommendations by the M. S. Swaminathan Committee.

Shiv Kumar Sharma of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, popularly known as Kakkaji, accused the government of attempting to suppress the ongoing agitation by defaming it and giving it a political colour.

"The government and Union Agriculture Minister have been giving irresponsible statements. This government's failed agricultural policies are responsible for the outburst of farmers' anger. The government should fulfil its electoral promises. Our demands are adequate implementation of Swaminathan Committee report and loan waiver to rescue farmers, who are stuck in financial trap," said Sharma, who is also convener of the Rashtriya Kisan Sangh.

Pavitra Singh and Nazer Singh, farmers from Mansa, said the farmer suicides in Punjab were on rise due to fall in the prices of agricultural commodities in the last few years.

"We are really under financial burden. Many of us even did not get Minimum Support Price (MSP). Why we would come all the way from Punjab to Delhi for protest if we were doing well? The government needs to look into our issues," they said.

Chandrabhan, who has four acres of land in Narsi village of Karnal district in Haryana, said if the government does not waive off his loan, he will not be in a position to buy seeds and fertilisers this year.

Amid issues of loan waiver and compensation, one more issue — the Goods and Service Tax (GST) — has gripped these farmers with anxiety.

The farmers are concerned about increase in prices of fertilisers, pesticides, tractors and other farm equipment after the GST is implemented.

Most of the organisations in the RKM have decided not to join the planned protest rally, which will be held from Mandsaur to Delhi from July 6, as its organisers are from political background.

"We will decide our next course of action on August 9," Sharma added.