Silk protesters give 'Delhi chalo call'

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a letter written to Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, has refused to accept the demands. The enraged farmers have now given a ‘Delhi Chalo’ call to mount pressure on the Centre.

The dharna by the farmers demanding an increase in silk import duty, ban on duty free import of silk and fixing of cocoon price on scientific basis entered the fourth day on Thursday. However, the agitation has been going on for over a year now.

The farmers, in thousands, will go to Delhi to lay siege to Prime Minister’s Office and Parliament and will also pressure Cabinet Ministers and MPs to accept their demands, the protesters said. The protest will not be withdrawn till the Government gives a written promise, they added.

The silk farmers in 13 districts, including Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, Bangalore Rural,  are affected by the Centre’s decision to import silk. The governments, both State and Central, have not bothered to understand the plight of farmers, let alone taking steps to alleviate their problems. Hence, a massive protest has become inevitable, said protesters disappointed with the governments’ apathy.

Background
The prices of cocoon fell in August, 2010, following the Centre’s decision to import 2,500 metric tonnes of duty free silk, Reshmekrishikara Hitaraksahana Vedike (district unit) Co-ordinator Yaluvalli Sonne Gowda told Deccan Herald. When the price of cocoon fell to Rs 160 a kg from Rs 310 in March 2011, a massive protest was staged by the farmers again, he added.

However, the governments have turned a blind eye to farmers’ problems. They are even thinking of ending their lives to not only escape debts, but also to provide money to their families, as government gives compensation to the families of the deceased, he added.

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