Protesting Tamil Nadu farmers stripped near Prime Minister’s Office on April 10 seeking their crop loans be waived-off and that the Centre take up their cause with positive effect.
But when they reached PMO to submit a memorandum, they couldn’t gain access.
The farmers, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for over three weeks, said they would further intensify their protest in case a positive view of their problem wasn’t taken soon.
On Friday, five Tamil Nadu farmers, including a woman, cut their hands, saying the Union government should wake up to their plight at least now.
Ayyakannu, who is leading the protest, has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to ignore them and they had no other go than going naked on the road. Notably, the farmers were later arrested by the police.
Two other protestors joined him and started running naked in South Block. At one point, the farmers even started rolling on the street naked.
The farmer who led the naked protest was eventually arrested.
“We’ve been here for over three weeks, but who cares? We also met many politicians, but what we want is not promises but action,” they said.
“We shed our blood to highlight the inhuman conditions we are forced to live in. Today, we have given our blood also to the protest. There is nothing more to give,” said another farmer.
The farmers have been reeling under the influences of what has been reportedly called the worst drought faced by the state in 140 years and the cyclone Vardah that hit the state in December last year.
The shock over crop loss and lack of revenue led to some farmers getting heart attacks, while many others committed suicide. At one point, an estimated 106 farmer deaths were reported within a month in Tamil Nadu. Some reports also say 144 farmers committed suicide between October to December in 2016.
For the remaining farmers, loan installments and dues to moneylenders have now become the greatest problem. Most farmers haven’t earned anything to come through on these payments. Farmers who tried selling their land, couldn’t even find buyers because it was that dry.
Besides a drought fund of Rs. 40,000 crore, the farmers have demanded for their loans to be waived off and pensions for those farmers who do not work on the field anymore.
The protestors had initially not been noticed in the Capital and resorted to several unusual methods to draw attention to their demands. Over the course of the past month, they had shaved half of their moustaches, shaved half their heads, held pieces of dead animals like snakes in their mouths, and displayed the skulls of other farmers who had killed themselves because of the massive debt they are facing. The state is expected to face drought this year too.