South India (2017)

Kisan Mukti Yatra in Madurai and Vedasandur

PRESS RELEASE: Kisan Mukti Yatra (AIKSCC)

Agricultural Workers, Women Farmers and Human Rights activists bolster the Kisan Mukti Yatra in Madurai and Vedasandur

Madurai, September 20th 2017:  As the nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra continued through Tamil Nadu today through Madurai, Vedasandur and Erode, a large number of agricultural workers, women farmers and human rights activists bolstered the Yatra with their enthusiastic participation. The public meeting in Madurai had hundreds of women farmers, who were highly appreciated by the national leaders traveling in the Yatra.

The leaders of the Yatra also visited Vedasandur in Dindigul district to pay homage at the Martyrs’ Memorial which commemorates the farmers’ struggle in 1978 led by Narayanaswamy Naidu where four of the agitating farmers were killed during police firing. The nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra also began in July from Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where farmers were killed by police firing during an agitation. The leaders of the Yatra vowed that by fighting in a united struggle, we should make sure that this kind of repression by the government is not repeated on the farmers.

Several members of the national working group of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) addressed the meeting at Madurai. V.M. Singh, the convenor of AIKSCC, said, “Compared to the organized sectors, farmers have been most neglected. Those working in the organized sector have the Pay Commission to ensure them good wages and income but farmers do not have an Income Commission. The Cost of Cultivation has increased, MSP has remained stagnant – this is the reason why farmers are going into debt and committing suicide. The government should ensure higher prices so that farmers get 50% profit above Cost of Cultivation as promised by the BJP in their election campaign.”

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Lok Sabha M.P. Raju Shetty from Maharashtra said, “The government is acting against farmers in all respects. Even in the GST regime, the Mercedes-Benz luxury cars face 6% GST, while tractors needed by farmers attract 12%. People like Arundhati Bhattacharya (chairperson of State Bank of India) are opposing farm loan waivers saying that they disturb the credit situation. The people of Tamil Nadu need to show the jallikattu spirit to get farmers their rights. Because of the Central government’s anti-farmer policies, I not only quit the NDA but will also expose Modi and the government for what they are.”

Yogendra Yadav, leader of Swaraj India said, “When I toured Tamil Nadu earlier during the drought, the government promised various measures like disaster compensation, rescheduling of loans, and community kitchens. Most of these have not been fulfilled. Nationalism is not about bashing Pakistan in TV debates and social media – it is about standing with our farmers in the crisis. But the governments of Tamil Nadu and Centre seem paralyzed on farmers’ issues.”

Dr. Sunilam, farmer leader of Madhya Pradesh said that he was happy to speak at a hall dedicated to Justice Krishna Iyer, who helped most people’s causes and movements. Dr.Sunilam strongly criticized the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. “The crop insurance scheme should have benefited the farmers of Tamil Nadu who suffered from unprecedented drought, but very few farmers benefited from it.”

Kavitha Kuruganti, national convenor of ASHA-Kisan Swaraj and working group member of AIKSCC said, “Tamil Nadu is the land of Narayanaswamy Naidu who showed farmers how how to get their rights from the government. It is also the land of Nammalwar who taught farmers how to be self-reliant. Now, there is a need for Tamil Nadu farmers to combine the spirit of both these leaders and join the nationwide farmers’ movement.”

Raja Pandian, district president of Tamil Nadu Traders Association declared its support for the Yatra declaring, “Without farmers, there are no traders. Production by farmers is essential to our own trade. We will fill trains to come to Delhi on November 20th and we will fill prisons if needed.”

Kameswari of Tamil Nadu Women Farmers’ Association (Vyavasaya Pengal Amaipu) highlighted the role of women in Indian agriculture and exhorted them to join the movement. Murali, State general secretary of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) said, “We will take up a one-day fast at Madurai on November 20th in solidarity with the farmers’ mega-rally planned in Delhi by AIKSCC.”

Vijayamurugan, state vice-president of Tamil Nadu Vyavasayagal Sangam, Mathivanan from All India Kisan Mahasabha, Dr.Rengaswamy from All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sanghatan, and K. Lakshmana Perumal of Dindigul District Vyavasayagal Sangam spoke at the meeting. Christina Samy of Swaraj Abhiyan anchored the public meeting.

The other organizations participating in the Yatra events today were Tamil Vyavasayagal Sangam, Tamil Nadu Nilavurimai Kootaimaipu, All India Democratic Students Association and Vyavasayagal Vazhvurimai Nala Sangam.

The Yatra moved on to a meeting at Erode at 6 p.m. The South India leg of the Kisan Mukti Yatra started on September 16th 2017 in Hyderabad. After covering Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the Yatra will enter Kerala tomorrow, with events at Walayar, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Thamarassery. 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. The two main demands of the Yatra are Freedom from Debt, and Guarantee of Remunerative Prices for all crops at 50% profit above cost of cultivation.

For more information, contact: Balakrishnan at 94446 27827 and Christina Samy at 098438 11066.

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