As many as 100 people were injured after the police resorted to a baton charge against protesting farmers in India on August 9. The mobilization in various States, including Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, were held under the banner of the All India Kisan (Farmers) Sabha. Among the demands of the farmers were a complete loan waiver and the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee Recommendations.
Over 12 lakh (1.2 million)people are reported to have taken part in the jail bharo (fill the jails) in 400 districts in response to the call. Kisan Sabha leaders and members gathered at the capital city Delhi on Parliament Street to court arrest.
The farmers’ movement has grown in strength in India over the past four years. There has been a wave of anger against the right-wing BJP-led government’s pro-corporate policies, which have seen a huge number of farmer suicides. “The anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies of the present government have proved to be a disaster for the country,” the General Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, Hannan Mollah, said.
The protest call was also supported by Dalit organisations and former servicemen to let the government know that the oppressed will not stand by quietly. In the northeastern State of Tripura, workers were led from the front by the former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
The main demands of the workers were: (i) complete liberation from all kinds of debt for the toiling peasants and agricultural workers (ii) ensure legal guarantee of minimum support price of one-and-half times the cost of production for all agricultural producers as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission and reduction in input costs (iii) immediate vesting of land in the name of tillers and implementation of the Forest Rights Act (iv) pension of INR 5,000 per month to all agricultural workers, poor and middle peasants.