New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Hardik Patel, the young leader of the newly-formed Akhil Bharatiya Patel Navnirman Sena, on Friday urged farmers not to commit suicide and instead fight for their rights.
He also said loans taken by debt-ridden farmers across the country should be waived off.
“The farmers must take a pledge today that they wouldn’t commit suicide instead they should fight for their rights. The government knows how to do politics with the farmers’ suicides.
“Those who speak up for the rights of the farmers and labourers, no one listens to them,” Patel said while paying homage to former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on his 111th birth anniversary at Vijay Ghat here.
Every year thousands of farmers from across the country assemble at Vijay Ghat on October 2 to raise their issues.
“The loans taken by the farmers must be waived off. I pay obeisance to all the farmers of the country on whose shoulders India is moving and those who feed the entire country,” Patel added.
He also appealed to the farmers to unite and launch a nationwide movement.
“The voice of the farmers should echo from every corner of the country and they should unite. When there is a call for auto-rickshaw strike, all the auto-rickshaw drivers from across the country unite to support the strike. Why can’t the farmers unite for their rights?” he asked.
“At least two farmers commit suicide everyday. In the last 60 years, there has been just 17 percent increase in the price of wheat, while prices of cement and bricks have gone up by 200 percent. That’s why the farmerrs are committing suicide,” he added.
Patel further said: “The government can only fool the farmers. The farmers produce grains but the prices are fixed by the government. The farmers should decide the price and not the government. The farmers are not being remunerated properly. It’ll be possible only if they get united and fight for their rights.
“When the farmers of all the states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal come out in lakhs, only then the government will listen to us. The government considers the farmers as puppets. The country got independence 60 years ago, but not the farmers.”
“The lands that have been acquired by the government but still not used for industrial purposes, must be returned to the farmers. We’ll fight for those lands,” he added.
A farmer, who came all the way from Bharatpur in Rajasthan, said: “I produce wheat, mustard, bajra on my own land. We come here every year to raise our issues with the government. There are numerous problems, like problem of electricity, water, diesel, seeds, fertilizers.
The market price of one quintal bajra is Rs 1000, which should be sold in the market for at least Rs 2000. The cost of production is more than thousand rupees and we don’t get anything in return. That’s why the farmers are running into losses,” said Saudan Singh, who came from Burawai village in Madhya Pradesh.
“A lot of farmers have committed suicide in Sitara and Takha villages. They had taken loans from money lenders, but their wheat and potato crops were destroyed due to storm. What can they do, they committed suicide,” he added.
Farmer Shiv Kumar, from Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh, said: “The cost of production every year is Rs.10,000 but the return is just Rs.12,000. With Rs.2,000 we have to make ends meet. This year due to drought the situation was worse. Lot of farmers are committing suicide because of this. What will they do?” asked Shiv.