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RSS’ farmer body holds rally in Delhi, warns govt of trouble if demands not met

New Delhi: Thousands of farmers held a rally here on Monday under the banner of RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) to press for a rollback of GST on agricultural goods and other demands and threatened to intensify their protest if these are not met.

Braving cold conditions, the farmers travelled to Delhi from several states, including Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, on tractors, motorcycles and private buses and participated in the ‘Kisan Garjana’ rally at the Ramleela Ground to seek relief measures, the organisers said.

The protesters were demanding a rollback of GST on farming activities, an increase in the income support provided under the PM-Kisan scheme, revocation of the permission for commercial production of genetically modified (GM) crops and remunerative prices for their produce based on the input cost, they said.

Launched in December 2018, income support of Rs 6,000 per year in three equal installments is provided to all land-holding farmer families under the PM-Kisan scheme.

The BKS, in a statement, said “state and central governments will face trouble if they do not heed the farmers’ demand in time”.

National General Secretary, BKS, Mohini Mohan said: “The promises made by the prime minister regarding the rights of farmers have proved to be empty.”

“The government promised an increase in the income of farmers, but this could not happen. Farmers are not beggars, they have the right to remunerative prices for their crops,” he said.

Mohan said the world’s largest farmers’ organisation “will roar and be vocal” if the government does not wake up in time.

Narendra Patidar from Madhya Pradesh’s Indore said GST on farm machinery and pesticides should be removed.

“With the rising input cost and inflation, we don’t make any profit. The government should pay attention to our problems. GST shouldn’t be imposed on dairy farming either.How can someone run a family on Rs 6,000 or Rs 12,000 in the current situation?” he said.

The farmers told PTI they will intensify the protest if the government does not meet their demands within three months.

“GST on farm machinery, pesticides and fertilisers should be removed. They have even imposed a five percent tax on dairy farming for no reason. The Rs 6,000 under Kisan Samman Nidhi are nothing but disrespect to farmers. It should be at least Rs 15,000,” said Dilip Kumar, another farmer from Madhya Pradesh.

Pramod from Maharashtra’s Raigad said the government imposes GST on farmers and provides subsidies to companies.

“They even charge GST on seeds. Something should be done about it. The pension they provide is a joke. How can one sustain their family with just Rs 6,000? (Union Agriculture Minister) Narendra Tomar said it will be increased to Rs 12,000, even that is not enough,” he said.

Surendra Singh Punjab’s Firozpur said the government failed to provide the last two installments under the PM-Kisan scheme.

“Farmers are also skilled labourers that much respect should at least be given to us,” he said.

The protesters cited studies to say GM seeds are “harmful” to people and future generations and farmers won’t use them until the government provides them with reliable research data.

In October, the government cleared the ‘environmental release’ of a genetically modified (GM) variety of mustard. The ‘environmental release’, involving seed production and field testing, is the final step before the commercial production of the crop by farmers.

“Until and unless we are provided research details until we get some proof that it is reliable, we are not ready to use GM seeds at all. Farmers have been opposing GM crops for a very long time but the government doesn’t pay attention to us,” said Ajay Bondre who had come from Nagpur.

Kanchan Roy who came from West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur said many have quit farming because they cannot bear the rising input costs.

“Many people have left farming and migrated from West Bengal to Delhi, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Does the government realise the inflation situation across the country and they want us to settle with Rs 6,000 or Rs 12,000,” she said.

Kishor Patel from Gujarat’s Aravalli said some of the demands have been met. “But the primary demands have not been considered despite assurances before the state elections.”

The BKS said it ran a public awareness programme in over 60,000 villages in 560 districts across the country for four months before coming to Delhi.

About 20,000 padayatras, 13,000 cycle tours and 18,000 meetings were organised in Telangana and Madhya Pradesh alone, they said.

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