As Mazdoor Ekta Lehar goes to the press, on 13 September 2017, angry peasants had once again taken to the roads to press for their demand of waiver of loans and other demands. The mahapadav organised by the All India Kisan Sabha and other peasant organisations on 12 September had forced the Rajasthan government to take notice of the more than 10-day long agitation and invite the leaders of agitating peasants for a meeting in the evening in Jaipur. An eleven member delegation led by the President of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and All India Kisan Sabha and ex-MLA, comrade Amra Ram and comrade Pema Ram took part in the talks. Talks went on till late in the night, however, it did not result in an agreement. Soon after that the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti met and announced chakka jam throughout Rajasthan.
|Some scenes of peasant protests:
1. Peasants blocking the Jaipur highway
2. A meeting of peasants in Shekhavati
3. Women taking active part in demos and road blocks
On Monday 11 September, peasants in Rajasthan came face to face with the police in Sikar. According to reports, the farmers began marching towards the district collectorate at noon, but were met with barricades put up by the Rajasthan Police. The report noted that the government also suspended internet services and imposed Section 144 in the district.
The peasants called for a blockade and 'gherao' of the district collectorate on day 10 of their protest, after talks with the state government failed.
Rajasthan’s peasants have been very angry with the state government on several counts. On 1 September 2017 the farmers began congregating at the Sikar Krishi Upaj Mandi and raising their demands. Since this day, the agitation has spread from Sikar grain mandi to Churu, Jhunjhunu and several other districts of the state. More than 50 peasant organisations have joined the agitation.
Peasants blocked roads at more than 600 locations - on national highways, state highways and various small and big roads. The bulk of the police force in Sikar had to be deployed to defend the collectorate and they could not prevent any of the road jams that the peasants had organised. A virtual curfew prevailed due to the agitation with many shops remaining closed and those that were open had no buyers.
Peasants have been pressing for their long pending demands for remunerative prices for their crops and for a waiver of all their loans. In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised a minimum support price for grain procurement at 50% above the cost of production. But this has remained an empty promised. Over the last year, the prices of agricultural commodities have all but collapsed. As per reports, peasants in Khood village have received only Rs. 4,800 per hectare of channa when the cost of production was about Rs. 13,000 per hectare. Similarly, moong cost of production per hectare was about Rs. 9,000 whereas the farmers could get only Rs. 3,000 per hectare. This has thrown the peasants into deep debt. They are receiving notices from magistrate that their property will be auctioned off.
Other issues that are troubling the peasants are compulsory insurance premium under PMFBY (they are being forced to pay the premium even when they have not opted for the scheme), denial of subsidised electricity and many other schemes of the government that look good on paper but do not benefit the farmers. The government's ban on cattle trade has reduced the price a farmer used to get to less than half. Further, there are many more stray cattle, which have been abandoned due to the ban and are presently creating a nuisance by getting into fields and destroying crops.
The State government had been utterly unsympathetic to the demands of the peasants. Peasants know that their struggle has to continue as government does not sympathise with their problems. Their bitter experience have taught them to not believe in the promises of the government which are by and large fraudulent.