Tamil Farmers Bring Skulls Of Dead Brethren To Delhi As A Sign Of Protest

By Ekta Handa:

A group of farmers from Tamil Nadu, belonging to the areas in and around Trichy, Karur and Thanjavur, have been sitting in a protest at Jantar Mantar since March 14, 2017.

Their key demands include a better drought-relief package for Tamil Nadu’s farmers, since the relief package announced by the government barely covers their losses. After incurring heavy losses as a result of the recent drought (which was officially declared on January 10, 2017), they are finding it difficult to provide even the bare essentials for their families and their own selves. The protesters all belong to the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam, a farmers’ organisation.

As a sign of protest, the farmers, all dressed in green lungis and petticoats, carried dug-up skulls of fellow farmers who have committed suicide due to the drought. Initially, they had tried to move towards the Prime Minister’s residence. However, they were removed by the authorities and taken to Jantar Mantar, instead.

Iyyakannu, the Tamil Nadu chief of the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam, stated that about 400 farmers have died since the onset of the drought. According to Iyyakannu, the relief provided to farmers is insufficient to cover the losses.

While sitting in a hunger strike, one of the farmers also attempted to hang himself on a tree at Jantar Mantar road, but was stopped by the police. On the second day of the protest, two of the protesters fainted.

The police officials have somehow managed to convince the farmers to consume food. The leaders of the group were also allowed to meet government officials.

The January 2017 drought in Tamil Nadu is its worst in over 140 years. The National Human Rights Commission sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu government in January 2017. The notice says – “The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding the deaths of 106 farmers during a period of one month in Tamil Nadu which it considers as a matter of concern.”

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court also directed the government to file an affidavit within four weeks regarding the steps taken to prevent farmer suicides in the state.

A month after the NHRC report and the Madras High Court’s notice, chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami sanctioned the release of a ₹2,247 crore package for drought-hit farmers. According to media reports, farmers who depend on irrigation for cropping were supposed to get ₹5,465 per acre. On the other hand, those who depend on seasonal rain would get ₹3,000 per acre.

The issue was taken up in the Rajya Sabha on March 10, 2017 by Radha Mohan Singh, the Minister of Agriculture in India. He promised that ‘substantial financial assistance’ would be given to drought-hit farmers in Tamil Nadu.

In pictures, scenes from the protest venue in Delhi:

The farmers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar since March 14, 2017.
Two people fainted on the second day of the protest, due to fasting.
News media reached Jantar Mantar only after three days.
Skulls of farmers who have committed suicide.
They have come to the capital with bare essentials.
The same protesters from Tamil Nadu were beaten up by the police when they came to Delhi a year ago.
The farmers having food after being assured by the authorities.
The farmers asking for alms.
The farmers were moved to Jantar Mantar after they began approaching the PM’s residence.
Slogans of ‘we need debt relief’ have been echoing in Jantar Mantar since their arrival.

_

Image Credits : Debalin Roy and Piyush Nagpal
Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below