Farmers from Tamil Nadu dropped down on all fours in the national capital on Monday. What could have initially been misconstrued as an acceptance of defeat was turned into yet another sign of protest, as they proceeded to stuff hay into their mouths. Their message to the centre clear - 'we have been reduced to animals in the wake of this drought'.
These farmers, part of a group of over 100 agriculturalists have grabbed the nation's eyeballs with their innovative forms of protests for the last 36 days. They arrived in the national capital on March 23 with a fixed set of demands, none of which have been met by the centre. Following the centre's alleged apathy and the Prime Minister's 'refusal' to meet a delegation of these farmers, some of them took to rolling on the roads of Delhi's south block, naked.
The farmers led by Iyyakannu, the Tamil Nadu chief of the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam were apprehended by the police, only to be let off again at Jantar Mantar.
"All our crop has failed and and we have to resort to eating what we feed our livestock," explains Prem Kumar from Trichy, who is part of the group of protesters. "The ropes around our neck is to represent our helpnessness because like animals tied in the house, we are tied to this fate," he adds.
The irony of posing as cows to give the Modi government a message, is however not lost on these farmers. "The centre is so worried about protecting cows and making sure that they are not subjected to any torture," says Prem. "But what about the farmers who feed, give water and nurture these cows? Are we not worth looking after?" he asks.
Prem's question comes mere days, after Iyyakannu told The News Minute, that the Centre was treating farmers like 'illiterate and third class citizens'. In an interview to TNM, the man behind these ingenious protests that have shook the country said, "For us these protests are a last resort. Several of us have fallen ill over these 31 days. I myself have lost 10 kg and I can hardly stand up. But the agitation will not stop, we will stand here in this blistering sun, till we die if that is what it takes for the Prime Minister to fulfil our demands."
The demands laid down by these farmers include - river interlinking, pension of Rs 5000 for farmers above the age of 60 and waiver of loans by banks and finance companies.