For 21 days, around 80 farmers from Tamil Nadu have made Jantar Mantar in New Delhi their home.
Having experienced the worst drought in 140 years in Tamil Nadu, farmers have been pushed to poverty, reeling from the loss of their crops and burdened with rising debts. Their protest demanding drought relief from the Centre has grabbed the attention of people back in Tamil Nadu and political leaders from across the spectrum. Led by P Ayyakannu, the farmers from the Cauvery delta have resorted to shocking methods to highlight their desperate plight.
Here are five measures that farmers from Tamil Nadu have resorted to highlight their pathetic state.
1) In an attempt to express their anguish, the protesting farmers shaved half their moustache on Monday. Sitting at Jantar Mantar and armed with nothing but a razor, farmers shaved half their moustache, as the cameras rolled. Monday’s desperate act comes a day after the protesters tonsured half their head.
2) Last week, the farmers held pieces of a dead snake in their mouths. "With the crops dead, only rats and snakes are left on our fields. We each held a piece of a snake in our mouth to show that this was all we can afford to eat now," Premkumar, a farmer from Trichy had then told TNM.
3) In another symbolic act, farmers tied ropes around their necks threatening suicide as they chanted the slogan “Save us, save us, save farmers.” Farmers have warned the Centre that if their demands were not met, including the release of immediate funds and waiving off their loans, they would have no choice but to take the extreme step of killing themselves. In another distressing act, farmers enacted a mock funeral for one of their peers as men and women beat their chest and blew a conch.
4) Dressed in nothing but loin cloths, and the women in petticoats, the farmers have braved all elements in New Delhi. But what shook India’s capital on day 1 of their protest were the skulls that these farmers were carrying with them. They belonged to agriculturists, who had killed themselves.
5) The protest of Tamil Nadu’s farmers began in the state last December following the failure of the North East Monsoon. Similar to the act of holding dead snakes in their mouth, the farmers then had resorted to holding dead rats in their mouths.