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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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.

South India (2017), Uncategorized

Kisan Mukti Yata in South India – Day 2

“The nation is indebted to farmers by at least 1.5 lakh crores annually:

When farmers ask for freedom from debt, they are asking for a legitimate right and not charity”

Vijayawada, September 17th 2017Leaders of the Kisan Mukti Yatra which entered Andhra Pradesh today on the second day of its South India tour asserted that it is the nation and government which owe the farmers, and not the other way round. “When we ask for freedom from debt, it is a completely justified and legitimate demand from farmers, and this is not just about loan waivers. We understand the limitations as well as meaningless loan waiver schemes that are being implemented right now and what we are asking for is a policy-based and statutory institutional mechanism for debt relief”, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in a statement today.

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The Yatra was welcomed into Andhra Pradesh from Telangana this morning in various places, on its way to Vijayawada, where a large gathering of farmers awaited the Yatra. Veteran farmer leader, Kolli Nageswara Rao was felicitated by national and local farmer leaders for his enormous contributions to protecting farmers’ rights in the country. A citation presented to him presented his numerous fights and achievements over the many decades. Two telugu books authored by Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao were also released on the occasion (“Amaravati: Navyandhra Praja Rajadhani Ayyedela” and “Raithanga Samasyala Parishkaram Kosam – Raithanga Samarabheri Aavasyakata”).

Presiding over the function which saw more than a thousand farmers participating, Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao of Raithu Rakshana Vedika flagged three main issues as pressing matters for farmers in the country – rights over resources like land; remunerative prices which also address the fact that farmers get priced out due to free trade agreements being signed by governments; and comprehensive debt relief.

“Initial calculations show that just as a consequence of the Farmers’ Commission recommendation for remunerative prices (cost of cultivation + 50%) not being implemented over the past ten years, farmers were denied at least 15 lakh crore rupees that is legitimately due to them”, said Yogendra Yadav, Member, National Working Group of AIKSCC. He congratulated farmers of Sikar for the tough fight that they put up in the recent past, by drawing in the support of all stakeholders in the society, to secure a loan waiver for themselves in addition to an assurance on various other demands. He also recalled the inspiring spontaneous struggles by farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and exhorted farmers in all other states to take up such struggles as well as join hands for securing justice.

Speakers like V M Singh (Convenor, AIKSCC) and Malla Reddy (Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha) said that BJP should realise that farmers are going to vote the government out of power in the next elections for the cheating that they are being subjected to by the government, when it reneges on promises made. V M Singh emphasised that the Kisan Mukti Yatra demand is not just about bank loan waivers. In a state like Andhra Pradesh, a vast majority of farmers are tenant farmers who do not access formal credit and would not benefit from such loan waiver schemes with limited objective, he pointed out.

Raju Shetty, Member of Parliament and a former constituent of the NDA said that while the government is busy hyping its promises of doubling farmers’ income, official data clearly shows that it is the loans of farmers that are more than doubling and not their incomes. He also cautioned that while he recently walked out of the NDA alliance arrangement because Modi’s government is claiming that it cannot implement the Farmers’ Commission formula for price-fixing, if the government does not accede to the two demands of the Kisan Mukti Yatra, he will put in efforts to pro-actively campaign against BJP and Narendra Modi from being re-elected.

Justice Gopal Gowda, retired Supreme Court Judge, spoke at length about the constitutional and legal rights of citizens/farmers against forcible land acquisition and narrated several progressive judgements from the Court. He was speaking in the context of land acquisition for the new capital city for Andhra Pradesh, Amravati.

Retired Cabinet Secretary, E A S Sarma demanded that there should be a separate Parliament session for at least seven days to debate issues of farmers and the agrarian crisis in the country. He also urged farmers to prepare a clear and strong manifesto for themselves and push for implementation of the same.

The South India leg of the Kisan Mukti Yatra started yesterday on September 16th 2017 in Hyderabad and after covering several parts of Telangana, entered Andhra Pradesh today. The yatra will hold meetings in Anantapur and Madanapalle tomorrow, and will enter Tamil Nadu on the 19th of September. 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: Kiran Vissa at 9701705743

South India (2017), Uncategorized

Kisan Mukti Yatra gets off to a strong start in south India

Telangana resonates with demands of freedom from debt and remunerative prices
Hyderabad/Suryapet/Nakrekal/Khammam, Sept 16th,  2017:
The nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra saw the participation of thousands of farmers in Telangana on the first day of its South India leg. More than 25 organisations joined hands to highlight farmers’ legitimate demands around debt relief and profitable prices. The Yatra is being organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) which consists of more than 150 farmer organisations. Prominent leaders and activists who joined the yatra include V.M Singh (Convenor, AIKSCC), Raju Shetty (Member of Parliament), Prof. Kodandram (Telangana JAC), Yogendra Yadav (President, Swaraj India), Dr. Sunilam (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti), Malla Reddy (AIKS), Vemulapalli Venkataramaiah (AIKMS) and others.
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Addressing a large gathering of farmers in Suryapet, V.M Singh recalled how the Modi government has brazenly reneged on its poll promise of implementing assured price with 50% margin over cost of cultivation.
Raju Shetty urged farmers to join in large numbers the Kisan Mukti Sansad on November 20th 2017 in Delhi to make the Centre accountable towards farmers’ well-being.
Women farmers from Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch lamented the lack of remunerative prices at the end of a season full of hardships and risks.
Exhorting Telangana farmers not to be left behind in a series of victorious farmers’ struggles in different states of India in the recent past, Yogendra Yadav reminded them of Telangana’s rich history of peasant uprisings.
Pointing out that the Telangana government is on the one hand urging farmers to collectivise themselves better, Prof. Kodandaram highlighted the duplicity of the government in repressing farmers’ movements in reality.
Malla Reddy explained that the loan waiver scheme of Telangana government with its many shortcomings ended up burdening farmers more than relieving from debt. As the loan waiver debate hots up in the country there is much to learn from Telangana on how not to design loan waivers, he said.
Dr. Sunilam cautioned governments to take note of the unprecedented confluence of all farm organisations in the country which will only gather more strength in the days to come.
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