NAPM condemns TamilNadu Govt. ignorance and apathy towards farmer’s issues
Drop all charges and release the protestors arrested in Chennai
Demands immediate response on demands of protesting farmers and immediate
When in the end of January 2017 lakhs of demonstrators occupied the Marina in Chennai to support Jallikattu and protests against the ban of the sport took place in numerous towns all over TamilNadu., this drew national attention, but it was not widely understood at that time that this was also a powerful expression of the long-drawn crisis in agriculture.
The crisis was already in full view in a mass meeting in Tanjore on 31st December 2016, the third death anniversary of Nammalvar, the organic agriculture farmer and scientist, who had mobilised the Cauvery Delta against Methane mining and died in the strain of that mobilisation three years ago.
In the meantime, TamilNadu farmers have been facing the most severe drought in 140 years. In the face of failed crops and large unpaid loans, at least 106 farmers have committed suicide in a period of one month. The Central Government is yet to waive off loans owed to nationalised banks and has only released Rs.2,000/- crores so far as drought relief to the State.
In response, over 85 farmers have been staging spectacular protests in New Delhi for one month. Their demands are:
- Write off the agricultural loans
- Fair price for agricultural goods
- 40000 crores Rupees to be provided as relief
- Cauvery Water Management Board to be set up to solve the water crisis.
Many of the leaders of the Jallikattu protest, including S.Rajesh, Social and Agro activist Thanga Shanmuga Sundaram, Le.Bala, Abdul and Arul Doss, National Convener of the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, have been convening since, to discuss the plight of the state’s farmers. They have staged multiple protests in March – April 2017, demanding that the State Government pay attention to the farmer protests, as well as the possible repercussions of the Methane and Neutrino projects.
About 1000 farmers were dispersed from the YMCA grounds in Saidapet, Chennai on March 25, at one such protest. Large numbers of policemen were stationed in the neighbourhood, chasing the protestors away from a meeting that was to be held at private premises. Following a protest at ValluvarKottam on April 1 and consequent arrests, these activists have also met with, the Chief Minister of TamilNadu Edappadi R.Palanisamy and submitted a Petition. They were only told that the State Government is doing all it can to emphasize the demands of the farmers at the Centre. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has severely condemned the State government for not addressing the issue of farmer suicides effectively.
Successful Blockade of Kathipaara flyover and Arrests
Almost a month after TamilNadu farmers started protests in New Delhi, the centre is yet to take any concrete steps towards addressing the grievance of the farmers. In order to show solidarity to the protesting farmers and to express their disappointment about the absence of any action from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these activists, joined by film director V.Gowthaman, among others, staged a protest in Chennai’s arterial Kathipaara flyover on April 13. They chained off traffic for 45 minutes, bringing the city to a standstill. The protestors were subsequently arrested and remanded to judicial custody in Puzhal jail. The protestors who are in Jail are on hunger strike to further press for their demand.
National Alliance of People’s Movement demands speedy action from Central Government and State Government in response to the plight to drought-stricken and debt-ridden farmers and their families. We fully support the demands of the farmers’ struggle in Delhi. The blocking of Kathipaara flyover has been a brave step to draw attention to the untenable situation of TamilNadu farmers.
We demand speedy release of the protestors and immediate action in support of farmers.