Close on the heels of farmers unrest in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, a group of cultivators led by P Ayyakannu, who had spearheaded a 40-day stir in New Delhi, today launched an “indefinite” protest here pressing for their charter of demands including comprehensive drought relief. The agitators began their protest by paying homage to the peasants killed in police firing in Madhya Pradesh recently. Raising slogans seeking justice for farmers, Ayakkanu emphasised that they faced a slew of problems and urged the government to look into their demands.
He hit out at the Tamil Nadu government for going against a recent Madras High Court directive asking it to extend farm loan waiver to all categories of farmers. The government should immediately take steps to disburse comprehensive drought relief and stop dragging its feet on the issue, he told PTI. Ayyakannu, president of National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association, alleged that the farmers who had sold paddy to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore seven months ago at a regulated market at Chetpet in Tiruvannamalai district were yet to get paid, pushing them into a debt trap.
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He had staged an eye-grabbing protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi before “temporarily” calling it off on April 23 after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami ‘promised’ to meet their demands. The farmers had then demanded loan waiver, drought-relief package of Rs 40,000 crore and setting up of Cauvery Management Board. The group led by Ayyakannu had staged novel protests by holding up human skulls outside the prime minister’s house, stripping naked outside the president’s and drinking urine. While announcing the withdrawal of the protest then, they had threatened to resume the agitation in Delhi from May 25 if their demands were not met.