Farmers be damned, moolah-chasing govt seemed to say

gagged: Farmers from Maddur and Shimoga being dragged out of the venue during the inauguration of the Global Agri Business Meet on Thursday. dh photo

Ninganoor spent Rs 600 on a bus ticket and booked a room for himself at a hotel, hoping to find suitable technologies for sunflower seed oil extraction at the Meet.

But little did this farmer know that he would not only be not entertained at the Meet, he would also have to face the humiliation of being roughed up by the police for trying to make way into the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre.

“As the advertisements said that everybody was welcome, I was shocked when the police brandished their lathi at me. They also pulled off my entry pass from my neck. Despite the harassment, I made my way through in search of the exhibition centre. But to my utter dismay there is nothing here. There isn’t anybody here who can guide us around or tell us what is happening. Why is the government making a mockery of us farmers?” he said.

And mockery it was. The BJP government’s pro-farmer stand on Thursday proved to be nothing but cosmetic. In stark contrast to the plush arrangements made available inside the fully air-conditioned venue, the government paid no heed to the pleas of hundreds of farmers who were stranded outside in the scorching heat.

The Meet was designed to specifically cater to the needs of big companies, and not that of the real stakeholder – the farmer - who was gagged, manhandled, ignored, and insulted in every manner possible by the authorities.

Apprehending trouble, the government had stationed police personnel all along the Tumkur Road leading to the venue, stopping any individual adorning a green shawl.

Despite seeking permission to register their protest, farmers’ organisations including the Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement, led by K S Puttannaiah, U R Ananthamurthy and H S Doreswamy, had to make do with faraway corners to stage the protest.

The authorities, in fact, did not even take kindly to six farmers from Maddur and Shimoga who successfully made their way into the main hall. The minute Rakesh Kacker, Secretary of the Food Processing Ministry, began his speech, the farmers stood up and shouted “We don’t want foreign companies,” only to be gagged and dragged out by the police.

The six farmers, who along with 150 others were taken away to the Byadarahalli training station, were kept there till 6 pm.

Shivanna C Arahunasi, agriculture expert from Mallapur in Gadag, who was at the event on the government’s invitation could not hide his anguish.

“The farmers of North Karnataka have been hit by the crashing prices of onion and chilli. Many families are going without even two square meals a day. It is ironic to see the government spending lavishly on food and other arrangements. It is unfortunate that we have to endure this paradox,” he said.

Freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, who extended support to the farmers, put it simply.
“This is just the beginning. The government is out to harm the agriculture sector in the State. The farmers have no choice but to come together and put up a strong protest. If they don’t, then nothing can save this country,” he said.

Voices of protest

U R Ananthamurthy

“Thanks to this Meet, the peasant will no longer be allowed to grow and sell what he wants. The government does not understand that there is no alternative to our traditional farming methods which have been perfected over the last 2,500 years. But it does not want to listen to other points of view. Instead of letting the peasant be, the government is making him a scapegoat – his freedom is being compromised with. If the farmer’s land is snatched from him, there will be no peace. The government should put a stop to this Meet.”

H S Doreswamy
Freedom fighter

“The small farmers are being targeted. We gravely fear consolidation of holdings. The big companies will enslave the farmers and grow what they want, and it will be very difficult to break from that monopoly. The MoUs may have been signed, but we can send them all out, like the way we sent out the British. We are, however, hoping that wisdom prevails and the government puts an end to this charade.”

K S Puttannaiah
KRRS, Hasiru Sene president
“The American economy has slumped and they (global companies) are eyeing our land. But we shouldn’t allow these foreign dacoits dressed in suits to loot us. Unfortunately, the government is handing it all to them on a platter.”

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