New Delhi: Close to one lakh farmers began their mega protest march in Delhi on Thursday against the Centre's "failure" to address their issues, sending traffic into a tizzy in some parts of the national capital.
The farmers arrived at Anand Vihar railway station where they were welcomed by members of Left-backed students' outfit AISA. Farmers also reached Bijwasan in southwest Delhi and began their march towards Ramlila Maidan.
Due to this march, traffic on Bijwasan and Dwarka Link Road was affected with police asking commuters to avoid the stretch. Farmer leaders said they were expecting as many as one lakh farmers at Ramlila Maidan by evening. On Friday, they will march from there to Parliament.
Hannan Mollah, convenor of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of 208 farmers' and agricultural workers' organisations, said more farmers would start the Kisan Mukti March from Majnu Ka Tila and Nizamuddin to Ramlila ground.
A cultural programme, 'Ek Sham Kisan Ke Naam', dedicated to farmers would be held at the ground in the evening, where prominent singers and poets would perform.
"On November 30, the farmers will start their march from Ramlila ground to Parliament. At Parliament Street, farmer leaders will speak on agrarian issues. Leaders of different political parties barring the BJP will address the gathering," said Mollah, who is a senior leader of the CPI-M.
The rally has been organised to protest against the Centre's failure to address farmers' issues, he said, adding the government must come out clean on measures for them. This is their third protest in the capital in as many months.
Atul Anjaan, national secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said all top leaders of opposition parties including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal have been invited for a two-day meet.
AIKSCC was formed under the aegis of AIKS and other left-affiliated farmers' bodies in June 2017, after struggles of farmers in different states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, for debt relief and remunerative prices.
It had formulated two private members bills: The Farmers Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018 and Farmers' Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018.
"The bills were prepared after a series of discussion on farmers issues during the Kisan Mukti Sansad, which was held in November last year," said Mollah.
He added that CPI-M MP KK Ragesh, who is also the national joint secretary of AIKS, has introduced the bills in Rajya Sabha. Raju Shetty of Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana presented these in Lok Sabha.
AIKSCC has demanded a special session of Parliament to adopt the two key bills of liberation from farm debt and fair assured prices to farmers and also to discuss the agrarian crisis and its related aspects.
It has also sought President Ram Nath Kovind's intervention on holding the special session.
Anjaan said rural India has been reeling under agrarian distress and for solving it, left parties and left-leaning organisations have been raising "democratic voices" across the country.
"To counter the agrarian distress, the first step of the government should be waiving farmers' loans. A National Debt Relief Commission for farmers has also to be set up," he said.