TN farmers drop urine-drinking plan on Delhi cops’ advice, to send it back home
A group of Tamil Nadu farmers on Saturday stopped just short of drinking urine as part of an ongoing agitation at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to demand drought relief funds and waiver of agricultural loans from the central government.
Although the agitators had vowed to drink urine and eat faeces over the weekend if their demands were not met, they reconsidered their stomach-churning strategy after the Delhi Police intervened. Instead, the farmers decided to collect the urine in a bucket and send it back to Tamil Nadu.
“We may not be allowed to drink urine, but it’s within our rights to collect it in a bucket. As we got neither water nor justice in Delhi, we will take our urine back home. We have no water there,” said P Ayyakkannu, state president of the National South Indian Rivers Linking Farmers Association, who is leading the protest.
However, a couple of farmers had sneaked in a few sips before the police could intervene. “They can arrest us if they want, but we will continue agitating,” said one of the protesters.
The farmers said the future course of their agitation largely hinges on the outcome of a meeting with Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palanisamy on Sunday morning.
On Wednesday, the farmers had agreed to “wait patiently” for two days, to give the government and ministers some time to get the affairs in order. The decision had come after the farmers met Pon Radhakrishnan, minister of state for road transport and highways, who is the only elected BJP MP from Tamil Nadu.
The minister had allegedly assured the farmers that he would talk to finance minister about their plight and try to come up with a solution by May 15. According to the farmers who met the minister, Radhakrishnan had said that he will try to get all loan collections and payments postponed for a year. He had also assured the farmers that any attempt to seize property, will also be suspended during this time. Ayyakkannu said that the minister had assured them of help in getting new loans, but was non-committal on the other demands, like the interlinking of rivers and setting up of a Cauvery Management Board.
However, protesting farmers at Jantar Mantar claimed they were being forced by the central government to resort to such measures. “I know it is humiliating to eat and drink our own waste. But, should the government not be ashamed of forcing us farmers to use such desperate measures? If only Modi would meet with us and hear us out,” said 65-year-old Palanichamy, who has been protesting at the site since day one.
The farmers have been demanding intervention by Centre 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.