MP farmers innovate protests to make govt pay compensation

Neeraj Santoshi, Bhopal: Harda farmers’ innovative ways of protesting, including donating blood and staging mock burials, seems to have

produced the desired effect: make the government pay for crop damage in last year’s rain.
Harda district collector Srikant Banot has said that more than 50,000 farmers in the district would be paid Rs 157 crore crop insurance within 15 days.
Farmers had threatened that if they were not paid the dues within 15 days, they would stage a “mass self-immolation” in front of the collector’s office.
However, Bhanot said there was a delay in budgetary allocation for the compensation. “Now the allocation has been made and soon we will provide insurance to the farmers,” he said.
Farmers protesting under the banner of Aam Kisaan Union had on Saturday decided to donate their blood to the state government, which they alleged was “sucking their blood” by ignoring their misery.
Authorities were at a loss at the gesture and allowed only 10 out of the 150 farmers to donate blood. The others were told that they would be called later.
“They told us they don’t have so much capacity to take blood from all of us,” Ram Inaniya, a leader of Aam Kissan Union, said.
On Friday, three farmers Kedar Sirohi, Sanjay Kherwa and Sunil Goliya had staged the ‘mitti mai samadhi’ (mock burial), indicating that the government had left them with no other option.
Inaniya said they started innovative protests to get the attention of the authorities.
“Farming is already a very low income venture. And when our crop is damaged or fails, we are left with nothing. We are protesting because the state government has not paid us crop insurance for damage to our soybean crop due to rain in 2015. There are roughly 53,000 farmers in the district who are suffering due to damaged crop,” he said.
Farmers in the state had earlier too staged innovative protests. In June, a farmer attired as Yamraj on a buffalo led a protest march, in order to show that the lord of death was roaming freely in the drought-hit district to claim the lives of farmers, who were on the verge of committing suicide.
In 2012, farmers, whose villages were submerged in Omkareshwar dam waters, demanded reduction in its level and staged a ‘jal satyagraha’ spending 17 days in waist-deep water of Narmada river.
September, 2012: Farmers and activists start ‘Jal satyagraha’ (spend 17 days in waist-deep water of Narmada River) in Khandwa district urging the government to reduce water quantum in the Omkareshwar dam as their villages were getting submerged by its waters.
November, 2012: Farmers in Katni district start ‘Chita Satyagraha’. They sit every day on unlit funeral pyres, with kerosene and match sticks nearby, to protest against acquisition of land by authorities for a thermal power plant.
December, 2015: Dancing, singing and beating drums, tribals in Betul protest with their ‘neend haram karyakram’ against the forest department for demolishing 45 dwellings in the forest area.
January, 2016: A farmer in Harda district dances before the collector during a public hearing on an issue related to the division of his ancestral land among him and his brothers.
February, 2016: Tribals in Harda chain themselves in shackles in front of the collector’s office, demanding that they should be declared as “slaves” as they don’t want to live under the “illusion that they were living in an independent India”.