South India (2017)

Yatra enters Tamil Nadu

PRESS RELEASE by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC)

Yatra enters Tamil Nadu; Traders, Consumers, Tamil filmdom and Bankers join hands in supporting the Kisan Mukti Yatra

Chennai, September 19th 2017:  The Kisan Mukti Yatra entered Tamil Nadu today after successfully covering Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Chennai, a broad cross-section of society including traders, consumers, film personalities and bank employees declared support to the Yatra and the farmers’ demands, apart from a spectrum of Tamil farmer organizations.

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As the Yatra was welcomed by a meeting organized at SBOA High School at Chennai, Prakash Raj, eminent actor and director said, “When the farmer doesn’t feel good, it is not a healthy society, just like a family in which the mother is ill. Farmer is like a mother – they know how to nurture nature and how to nurture human beings, but the governments are not recognizing this.  This Yatra is an auspicious moment for all of us. We should come out in large numbers and speak out for the farmers. If the farmer comes to Chennai and feels that there is no one to support me, we should all feel guilty.” Director Vetrimaran and others also sent messages of support.

Thomas Franco, leader of All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), declared support to the Yatra on behalf of his union of more than 3.5 lakh bank employees, and said, “I opposed my own chairperson when she said that giving farm loan waivers is not good for the nation. When farmers are in a big crisis, the country should do whatever it takes to support them. We support the demands of the Kisan Mukti Yatra including Freedom from Debt and Remunerative Prices.”

The President of Tamil Nadu Traders Association, Mr.Vellaiyan said, “Instead of supporting farmers, the government is importing foodgrains from abroad, benefiting the corporates. Farmers, traders and consumers need to come together to resist the corporatization, and save agriculture in our country.”

Speaking on behalf of the consumer movement, Shubha Bharadwaj of Safe Food Alliance said, “As consumers of food, we should all be alive to the condition of the farmers who produce our food. We strongly support the Kisan Mukti Yatra and the united struggle of the farmers for a dignified living.”

Leaders of many farmer unions of Tamil Nadu including Shanmugam, state secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, Vettuvalam Manicandan of Tamil Nadu Vyavasayagal Sangam, Ilangeeran of Cauvery Delta Irrigated Farmers Federation, Vimalanathan of Cauvery Farmers Protection Group, Krishnamurthy of Pondicherry Organic Farmers Federation, Sheelu Francis of Tamil Nadu Womens’ Collective, and activists of Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, welcomed the Kisan Mukti Yatra and declared that the unity of farmers’ organizations across the country in the form of AIKSCC is a historic juncture and they are joining hands in this united struggle. The meeting was anchored by Balakrishnan of Swaraj Abhiyan, and Ananthoo of Safe Food Alliance and ASHA-Kisan Swaraj.

Speaking at the meeting, Sardar V.M.Singh, convenor of AIKSCC said, “Prime Minister Modi promised loan waiver to the farmers of Uttar Pradesh during the state election campaign. But he is the Prime Minister for the entire nation – he should deliver a loan waiver package for the farmers of the entire country. When we are asking for Freedom from Debt, it also means that in bad years of drought, the farmers should not fall back into debt. The farmers of Tamil Nadu paid hundreds of crores as insurance premium during 2016-17 but did not get any benefit.”

Raju Shetty, Member of Parliament from Maharashtra and a key leader of the Kisan Mukti Yatra, said that the Modi government at the Centre is one of the most insensitive governments which doesn’t care for farmers at all. Even when the Tamil Nadu farmers have been protesting for more than 40 days in New Delhi, no one from their government has come to even meet them and discuss their demands. Saying that the farmers should teach the government a lesson, he gave a call to the Tamil Nadu farmers to come to Delhi on November 20th to join the mega-rally of farmers.

Dr.Sunilam, senior farmer leader and former MLA from Madhya Pradesh, said, “The farmers are facing a huge income disparity. The lowest government employee makes Rs. 800 per day while those at the higher level make Rs.3000 to 5000 per day. A worker under MGNREGS scheme makes Rs.180 per day while a farming family on an average is making only Rs.50 per day per head. For the farmers to fight against injustice, we also need democracy to survive, so we farmers also join hands to protect the democratic spaces.”

Yogendra Yadav, leader of Swaraj India and working group member of AIKSCC, said “Farmers are facing three kinds of betrayal – from the governments, from the markets and from the society. They should forge three kinds of unity – across all states of India, across farmers of various crops, and across various categories such as landed, landless, marginal and tenant farmers, adivasi, Dalit and women farmers. This is what is happening in the Kisan Mukti Yatra and this historic process will force the governments to meet the demands of the farmers.”

Other leaders who were part of the Kisan Mukti Yatra such as Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, Com.Chandrasekhar from All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Kirankumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, also spoke at the meeting in Chennai.

The Yatra moved on to Thanjavur where a large public meeting will happen at 6 p.m. The South India leg of the Kisan Mukti Yatra started on September 16th 2017 in Hyderabad and after covering Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, entered Tamil Nadu today. Tomorrow , September 20th, the Yatra will cover Madurai, Vedasandur and Erode. It is scheduled to end in Bangalore on September 23rd. The yatra is being held under the aegis of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which consists of more than 160 farmer organisations all over India.

For more information, contact: Balakrishnan at 94446 27827 and Ananthoo at 94441 66779.

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