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Published On: Wed, Sep 5th, 2018

Farmers hold rally in Delhi, demand loan waiver, better wages

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farmers-05NEW DELHI : Thousands of farmers and laborers from across the country held a massive protest in the national capital on Wednesday against what they called “anti-people” policies of the Modi government, and demanded higher prices for farm produce, waiver of loans and better wages.
Farmers and agricultural workers turned central Delhi into a sea of red flags on Wednesday as they marched to Parliament Street for a Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh rally organised by unions affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
“This is a historic union. For the first time, workers and farmers have marched together in such numbers to protest the government policies,” said Tapan Sen, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). The major demands included loan waivers for small farmers and higher minimum support prices for crops; minimum wages of ₹18,000, an end to anti-worker labour reform, and social security and food security benefits for all.

“This year, rural agricultural workers got only 27-days of work through MGNREGA,” said S. Thirunavukkarasu, president of the All India Agricultural Workers Union. “What has happened to ‘acche din’ promised by the Modi government? It was only acche din for corporates, not for people like us.”
The protesters, holding placards and shouting anti-government slogans, marched from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament in Central Delhi, and warned the ruling BJP that it will have to pay a heavy price in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for ignoring the demands of the disadvantaged people.
The ‘Mazdoor Kishan Sangharsh Rally’, organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All-India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU), also demanded concrete measures to generate jobs, minimum monthly wage of Rs 18,000 for workers, halting “forcible” land acquisition and stopping changes in labour laws.
Carrying red flags and wearing red caps, the marchers raised slogans against the policies of the BJP government and assailed the ruling party’s “communal and divisive” agenda.”For the last four years, this BJP government has fooled us. It has never done anything for the farmers. The government should give farmers remunerative price as per the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee,” AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah said.
He said all other farmers’ organisations will hold a long march and come to Delhi on November 30. “Trade unions will also hold a two-day strike by the end of the year,” he said. The rally was also supported by a large number of artists, academicians and left-wing intellectuals. A large number of protesters arrived in Delhi around three-four days ago.
This is the largest protest held at Parliament Street this year, according to a senior official of the Delhi Police. Organisers of the rally claimed that at least 1.5 lakh people had participated in it.

“We will have to intensify our protest in the days to come, as the government will not listen to our demands,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told journalists on the sidelines of the rally. “We will take the struggle to every district…This government has to go.” (With Agency Inputs ).


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