Farmers from across the country took out a massive protest march in New Delhi on Monday, demanding debt relief and better crop prices. The protest, called by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), was joined by farmers of at least 184 organisations from over 20 states. The agitators took part in the procession from Ram Leela ground to Parliament Street and held a ‘Kisan Mukti Sansad’. Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) from Maharashtra, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, AIKSCC convenor VK Singh and activist Medha Patkar led the demonstrators. According to SSS spokesperson Yogesh Pande, women farmers from Gujarat, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra along with the widows of farmers who had committee suicide took part in the protest.
The AIKSCC has demanded 50% profit margin over the cost of production of crops and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. Other demands include waiver of all farm loans, a monthly pension of `10,000, implementation of a progressive land reform policy and ensuring quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides at subsidised rates. “We have two demands, one that the remunerative prices should be production cost plus 50%, which was recommended by the Swaminathan Commission and promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Yadav said. “The second demand is a one-time waiver of all agricultural loans. Most steps in the last few years have been taken by state governments. But the experience shows unless the central government steps in, loans cannot be waived,” he said. “So, we urge the central government to waive all agricultural loans in all states and not just election-bound states,” he said. Pande said that the core committee will meet in Delhi on Tuesday to decide on the future course of action for the agitation.