New Delhi: Farmers from Tamil Nadu protesting at Jantar Mantar called off their agitation on Sunday evening, hours after they met with state chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami.
“If our demands are not met, we will start our protest again after May 25. We will leave today if we get tickets,” a news agency quotes Ayyakkannu, one of the farmers as confirming. This leaves the government one month’s time to meet their demands, which includes writing off their loans from nationalised banks and a revised drought relief package.
Over the past 40 days, the farmers have grabbed national attention through novel, and often shocking, forms of protest. They have shaved their heads and half their moustaches, put mice and snakes in their mouths, conducted mock funerals, flogged themselves, stripped at Raisina Hill, and carried skulls of farmers who committed suicide due to debt pressure. On Saturday, they said they would drink urine but were persuaded not to by Delhi Police.
Ayyakkannu, who was leading the protesters, had a meeting with the local district commissioner of police and was told not to drink urine. He had told HT that the protesters would send their urine in buckets back to Tamil Nadu as a symbolic gesture of protest.
Speaking to reporters after the NITI Aayog governing council meet, chief minister Palaniswami said that he discussed the farmers’ plight during the meeting and forwarded their demands to the Prime Minister.
During the course of their protest, the farmers met political leaders including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and Pon Radhakrishnan, minister of state for road transport and highways, who is also the only elected BJP MP from Tamil Nadu.
Apart from demands to write off their loans from nationalised banks, the farmers have also demanded a revised drought relief package and to resolve the alleged drying up of the Tamil Nadu leg of the Cauvery river.