New Delhi Correspondent
Thousands of farmers from different parts of India on Friday tried to march to parliament here protesting falling prices of their produce and increasing input costs.
An estimated 35,000 farmers were stopped by the police who put up iron barricades near the Parliament Street Police station in the heart of the national capital, less than 1,000 yards away from parliament whose winter session begins on March 11. Farmer leaders addressed the protesters there after they were not allowed by the police to go further. Later, Congress party President Rahul Gandhi and top leaders of other opposition parties joined a rally of the farmer’s at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Rahul said in his speech that the opposition parties may have different ideologies but “we are united for the future of this country, its youth and its farmers. Let us set aside our differences and address the concerns of youth and farmers.” “Modiji speaks on behalf of business magnates. Any government that insults the youth and farmer of this country will be thrown out. We stand with you. We are ready to do whatever you want, even if that involves changing law. This country is not run by an individual, it’s run by you, its countless farmers who toil from dawn till dusk,” he said.
Addressing the rally, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Modi government of stabbing the farmers in the back and it was unfortunate that farmers had to come to Delhi to lodge their protests.
Curbs on exports of foodgrains and their falling prices have impacted farmers’ incomes. Agriculture contributes about 15 percent to India’s 2.6 trillion dollar economy, Asia’s third-largest, and employs nearly half of its 1.3 billion people.
The farmers are also demanding that a special session of parliament be convened to discuss the agrarian crisis.
Over 3,500 police personnel were deployed on the route of the farmers’ march that began from the Ramlila Maidan.
Also, students from various universities turned out in large numbers to lend support to the farmers’ cause. The protest also saw participation of a number of women farmers who travelled from various parts of the country.
Around 600-700 volunteers of a solidarity group ‘Nation For Farmers’ marched with the protesters under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee formed under the aegis of All India Kisan Sabha and other Left-affiliated farmers’ bodies in June last year.