Hundreds of people were gathered at the Hanumantharaya Library in Vijayawada on Tuesday under the aegis of AgriGold Customers and Agents Association demanding that the Andhra Pradesh government listen to their woes.
The protesters participated in a 30-hour silent satyagraha, to highlight the TDP government's delay in releasing the compensation as announced by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
Several people who lost their family members due to the AgriGold scam spoke to TNM.
22-year-old Naveen Kumar who travelled from Guntur, said that his mother died of shock, when news of the scam spread in the media.
"We have lost our mother and our land. Now, we are hoping for some help from the state," he said.
Following his mother's death Naveen became a daily wage labourer, doing painting jobs to help the household.
Razia Begum who hailed from Rajampet village in Kadapa district, said that her husband, SK Basha, died of a heart attack, and hoped that the government would give them justice.
Naveenâ€™s mother and Raziaâ€™s husband are among 32 lakh people, who were duped by the AgriGold scam, which came to light in 2014. Residents from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were cheated by the company.
AgriGold owes Rs 6,380 crore to over 32 lakh depositors in nine states, with Andhra Pradesh leading the list with 19 lakh depositors.
The company lured several lakh customers on the promise that their investment would come back to them with higher returns. Several 'agents' were also sent out to convince people to invest in the group of companies.
The company allegedly took this money and invested heavily in real estate, before branching out to other areas as well, and finally duping the customers.
In September this year, the state government had promised a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of 20 deceased.
N Govindamma, who had travelled from drought-prone Anantapur district, had huge expectations from the government.
"We had to take Rs 3 to 4 lakh in loans, to clear our debt. I'm worried about my children. I don't know if they will be able to finish their studies. One girl needs to be married. My life is miserable," she told TNM.
Adikari Venkata Laxmi, another woman whose husband, Nukaraju, passed away in 2016, asked, "Why can't the government officials disburse the amount, when the Chief Minister has already announced compensation?"
"I don't think we will be able to get out of this debt in our lifetime," she added.
Many also questioned the delay, pointing out that victims of the Vijayawada boat tragedy were handed out compensation on a war footing.
"Aren't our lives not worth giving compensation?" one protestor asked.
"When hundreds of family members are sitting in this chilly winter, why can't the government hear them? Are these lives not worth a response? Why is the state government hibernating?" M Nageshwar Rao, Honorary President of the Agri Gold Customers and Agents Welfare Association asked.
"We strongly demand an immediate response from the government," he added.
With inputs from Nitin B.