By George Kommattathil
Kozhikode, March 21, 2019: Hundreds of people, including women and children, braved scorching sun to protest government apathy to farmers in India.
The marchers, mostly Catholics, on March 20 wore garlands of coconuts, rubber, coco, areca nuts and other crops and marched to the Kozhikode district collectorate to present a memorandum that demanded protection of their right to live.
The farmers’ rights protection movement organized the rally that ended at the collectorate after winding through busy highways.
Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Calicut, who opened the rally, stressed the need for farmers to unite for their survival. Politicians never take the farmers’ problems to legislative assembly or parliament just because farmers are not organized, the prelate added.
Many farmers now face bank attachment for not repaying the agricultural loans. Most have lost their crops and farm produces because of floods and attack of wild animals.
Bishop Chakkalakal requested bank officers and the government officials to show mercy to the ailing farmers.
Addressing the gathering, Bishop Remigiose Inchananiyil of Thamarassery said the rally was only the beginning of their agitation to protect the farmers. He said that the farmers do not need 2,000 rupees promised under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna. What they need is the government control “the ruthless rubber import” to benefit big firms.
He said Kerala government’s advertisement claims the state is number one. “We are number one in fostering wild boars and elephants. Farmers’ life has become terrible due to the attack of wild boars and elephants,” the bishop bemoaned.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that he was the nation’s chaukidhar (guard), the prelate noted t farmers have become the chaukidhars of wild boars and elephants in Kerala. “We need justice. Farmers’ rights should be protected, their voice should be heard,” he insisted.
Their demands to the collector included protection from wild animals, right to cut trees from their own land, and better rubber price.
Thoms Tharappel, a farmer who took part in the march, said that farmers are unable to survive. “Rubber price has gone down. We are not able to make our both ends meet. Farmers are on the verge of extinction,” he told Matters India.