Srinagar: The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Jammu Kashmir Kisan Tehreek (JKKT) held a conference in Srinagar on Thursday and reiterated that they will continue to support the local farmers, towards whom the authorities have been apathetic.
Dr Ashok Dhawale, the president of AIKS, said that they will support the struggle of people in Jammu and Kashmir especially the farmers, in their struggle for their rights. He said their rights have been violated in the last few years.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, apple farmers, paddy and saffron farmers and even dairy farmers are facing problems and dealing with crises due to the fall in prices of produce. We will raise their issues and intensify our protest unless the issues are resolved,” Dhawale said.
Dhawale is visiting Kashmir as part of a nationwide program to mobilise support for the upcoming country-wide stir. The farmers’ body, which has as many as 1.36 crore members in 25 states, said they will be launching rallies around state Raj Bhavans on November 26, the day which also marks the beginning of the farmers’ agitation in 2020.
The farm leader said there are four main demands of farmers, including a legally guaranteed Minimum Support Price (MSP), something Dhawale said, has been recommended by the National Commission on Farmers.
“We also want a complete debt waiver to farmers and agriculture workers. The previous governments led by VP Singh and Manmohan Singh had made similar waive-offs. So, why can’t the current government led by (Prime Minister) Modi do it when they have waived off loans worth Rs 11 lakh crores for a few corporates?” Dhawale argued.
He also said that neither the state government nor the central government has been able to provide any relief under Fasal Beema Yojana to any of the farmers who have faced losses due to natural disasters that he said should be done and also called for the withdrawal of draft Electricity Bill.
The farm leader expressed serious concerns over the problems faced by farmers, especially in the wake of increasing debts including in Jammu and Kashmir. “In the last eight years, as many as 1 lakh farmers have committed suicide, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB),” he added.
Thursday’s conference comes after AIKS, earlier in June, called for unity in the apple-growing regions of J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to fight the large-scale exploitation of apple farmers.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that Kashmir’s struggling fruit Industry was a priority in the conference discussions as it has been facing a lot of problems due to official apathy. The former Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Kulgam hoped that the AIKS will continue to support the farmers from J&K in their struggle and link their demands with the nationwide struggle of farmers.
“Our economy will suffer major losses if the government does not support the industry. We have seen fewer concessions and faced more excesses. There are so many hurdles and restrictions imposed here by the authorities,” Tarigami said.
Apple is considered vital in the region, which is believed to provide a livelihood to over more than 7 lakh families and contributes 8% of the GDP of Jammu and Kashmir, according to the economic review of 2017-18. The apple farmers, however, have been facing distress due to the lack of remunerative prices.
According to JKKT, around 30% of the production gets wasted or spoiled at different stages due to the non-availability of storage facilities with small and middle farmers. Recently, the arterial Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for days due to which fruit-loaded trucks were halted for days leading to losses worth crores of rupees.