Tamil Nadu farmers' plight and their protests - A Timeline

| Updated: Apr 23, 2017 23:37 IST

New Delhi [India], Apr 23 (ANI): The Tamil Nadu farmers, who have been protesting in the capital for the past 40 days and demanding loan waivers, drought relief packages and formation of a Cauvery management board to resolve their irrigation issues, today hinted at withdrawing their agitation. This came following assurance from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, who assured that he will take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to waive off the loan and urged the farmers to end their protest. Palaniswami yesterday met with the protesting farmers from his state at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital. The farmers have been grabbing headlines for their unique and sometimes bizarre methods of protest since they arrived in Delhi over 38 days ago. Adorned with human skulls around their necks, the farmers attempted to grab the attention of authorities towards their condition and demands for drought relief package. Let's have a look at how this issue originated and escalated to this level. In August last year, protests erupted in Tamil Nadu after Karnataka refused to release Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka's refusal to Tamil Nadu put the farmers in Delta districts in distress. The failure of monsoon was the next big blow to the farmers. Hit by the drought, many farmers committed suicide as they were unable to repay their crop loans. Since then, farmers took to the streets everyday demanding drought relief fund. The Tamil Nadu Government sent teams comprising of ministers to review the drought situation in the state. Finally, the state government officially declared a drought in the state. The Central Government released Rs. 1,740 crore in drought relief fund instead of the Rs. 40,000 crore sought by the state government. Since mid-March, a group of farmers led by P. Ayyakannu has been staging a protest in front of Delhi's Jantar Mantar, demanding that the Central Government release Rs. 40,000 crore. Several Tamil Nadu leaders, including DMK working president M. K. Stalin and MDMK leader Vaiko, met the protesting farmers in Delhi. The protesting Tamil Nadu farmers stripped outside the South Block earlier on April 10 after they were allegedly denied permission to meet Prime Minister Modi. The farmers have so far performed 'Angapradakshinam' - rolling prostrate on the street at Jantar Mantar - staged suicides, conducted mock funerals, shaved off half their moustaches and beards, stripped in front of the Prime Minister's office, eaten dal and rice off the road, stood with mice in their mouths and have hung skulls around their necks, which they claim belong to farmers in their state who committed suicide because of mounting debt. The last time Delhi witnessed a memorable farmers' protest was in 1988, when Mahendra Singh Tikait, a Jat farmer leader from Uttar Pradesh, laid siege to the capital with a charter of demands. With him, nearly five lakh farmers with their tractors, cattle and cooking utensils took over the Boat Club lawns - the original protest venue in Delhi, on Rajpath - till the Rajiv Gandhi government finally relented to their demands, which included an increase in the price of sugarcane and some waivers. It was after Tikait's sit-in that the protest venue was shifted to the Jantar Mantar so that the agitators could be kept at a safe distance from the government buildings. The farmers have been demanding Centre's intervention to write off their loans from nationalised banks, a revised drought relief package and resolve the alleged drying up of the Tamil Nadu leg of the Kaveri river. The state government and the Madras High Court have already waived their loans from co-operative banks. (ANI)