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'This government wants to kill farmers'

June 10, 2017 11:05 IST

'We are asking for the resignation of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for killing six farmers in Mandsaur district.'
'His is a killer government.'
'The anti-farmer policies of these state governments have brought ruin for the farmers.'

A scene from Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, where 6 men were killed in police firing on June 6. Photograph: PTI

As the state governments in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh try to douse the fires that have been raging since June 1 on account of the farmers' agitations in these states, farmers in yet another Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state are preparing themselves for a similar agitation.

Indeed, except for one demand, the demands of the Rajasthan farmers are almost similar to those of agitating farmers in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Pema Ram -- a Communist Party of India-Marxist MLA from Dhod in Rajasthan's Sikar district from 2008 to 2013 -- says the Narendra Modi government's recent notification that bans the sale of cattle for slaughter is anti-farmer and will kill farmers who rear cattle like sheep, goat and buffalo, for sale.

Pema Ram -- the All India Kisan Sabha's Rajasthan president -- spoke to Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore about how the AIKS, with a membership of 500,000 farmers in Rajasthan, plans to bring the state government to its knees if the farmers' demand is not accepted.

What are the main demands of your agitation?

Hike in minimum support price (MSP), waiver of farmers' loans, and immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

We also oppose and demand the rollback of the central government notification that bans the sale of cattle for slaughter.

How does the ban on sale for slaughter impact farmers?

This notification will kill farmers.

We won't be able to sell our cattle.

We rear cattle like goat, sheep, and buffalo and because of this notification we won't be able to sell them.

Where will farmers keep these cattle?

By this new law, they have banned sale of all cattle for slaughter.

The Modi government is propagating its Hindutva agenda under the guise of cow protection.

This government wants to kill farmers.

By this notification, this government has proved it is anti-farmer and so this law is a conspiracy to ruin farmers who rear cattle for sale.

How will you go ahead with your agitation?

It will be peaceful and we will request the state government to accept our demands and plead with it for implementation of our demands.

Now that the state and central governments belong to the BJP, we expect the state government to work for farmers' benefit.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Narendra Modi had promised the farmers in Rajasthan that he will hike the MSP and implement recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee.

Now that he has won the election we only hope he accepts our demand.

What if your demands are not accepted?

Then we will bring the state administration to a standstill.

The state government must remember that the All India Kisan Sabha made the government change its decision to hike electricity prices by the Vasundhara Raje government.

Rajasthan is among the first states to force the state government rollback its decision to hike electricity prices.

What are the grievances faced by Rajasthan farmers?

They (the state government) are not buying single grain from the farmers and they talk of hiking minimum support price!

The onion crop from Rajasthan's Shekhawati region, just like in Maharashtra's Nashik, was completely destroyed for want of prices above their cost of production.

The same is true about vegetables, pulses; the farmers are not getting fair prices for their crops.

Additionally, the farmers are trapped in debt because of the state government's anti-farmer policies.

When are you launching your agitation?

In about a week, the farmers of Rajasthan will petition all the district collectors about their demands and if they are not accepted we will have no option but to intensify our stir in the streets.

We will gherao all the collectorates and dump our agricultural produce in front of them.

During our agitation against hike in electricity prices we had gheraoed the collectorates in every district with thousands of farmers and demanded that district collectors come and meet us where we were, else we had threatened to lay siege to their offices.

We had dared them to fire bullets and kill us.

Ultimately, the government had to wilt before our strength and we will do the same again for farmers' demands.

As we speak, the farmers in Rajasthan are expressing their solidarity with their brothers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, who are also agitating for their just demands from their governments.

We have started petitioning each and every district collector about our support to the farmers in these two states for accepting their demands.

We are also asking for the resignation of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for killing six farmers in Mandsaur district. Hatyari sarkar hai woh (His is a killer government).

In logon ne milkar kheti karne walo ko choupat kar diya (the anti-farmer policies of these state governments have brought ruin for the farmers).

IMAGE: A scene from Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, where 6 men were killed in police firing on June 6. Photograph: PTI

Prasanna D Zore / Rediff.com