Thousands of farmers from across the country held a protest march in New Delhi on Monday. They organized a ‘Kisan Mukti Sansad’ or mock parliament session to present two bills – on freedom from debt and remunerative prices for farm produce.
The protest march, organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) -- an umbrella body of 184 farmers organisations -- started from the Ramlila Maidan and ended on Parliament Street near Jantar Mantar.
"We want Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh to visit the Kisan Sansad and hold a discussion with farmers," said Kirankumar Vissa, a farmer activist from Telangana. The bills will be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
All members in the mock session were women, who spoke about their sufferings due to the "wrong and anti-farmer policies" of the government.
Lok Sabha member and farmer leader Raju Shetti tabled the bills, which were then discussed.
"We will pass these bills in the evening after discussions," Shetti said.
Social activist Medha Patkar was the designated house Speaker during the mock session.
Criticising the NDA government for "failing" to fulfil its promise of 50% profit over crop production cost, the farmers warned it of repercussions during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Pooja More, a farmer from Maharashtra, said that thousands of farmers had committed suicide as the government had no concern for them.
"There are leaders who make tall claims, but do nothing. The current system is not beneficial to farmers," she said.
Prabhavati from Bidar, Karnataka, said her brother committed suicide because crop prices fell drastically.
"We grow pulses, grains, and sugar cane on our 10 acres. Despite good yield, we could not even recover the production cost. So, my brother committed suicide," she said.
Many farmers said they were under tremendous financial burden due to the fall in prices and lack of government help.