To highlight agrarian distress, farmer unions plan to mark the International Day of Yoga on June 21 by performing shavasana, or the corpse pose, across the country. On the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to be in Lucknow and perform yoga with an estimated 50,000 people.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan chief Shiv Kumar 'Kakkaji' said 62 farmer unions will block national highways for three hours on June 16. In New Delhi, farmer union leaders and supporters plan to visit Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat on that day.
"Our non-violent movement will continue. But, yes we want to tell people across the length and breadth of this country the pitiable condition of farmers. To this end, we plan to perform shavasana on the International Day of Yoga," Shiv Kumar, who has emerged as the leader of the farmer agitation in Madhya Pradesh, told this paper from Bhopal.
On June 21, the International Day of Yoga that United Nations ratified in 2014 upon the PM's initiatives, Shiv Kumar said farmers will perform 'shavasana' and also put up effigies to highlight farmer suicides.
He said unions plan to put up posters of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri with his rallying cry during the 1965 India-Pakistan war of 'jai jawan, jai kisan', or 'hail the farmer and hail the soldier'; posters of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 with his rallying cry of 'jai vigyan', or 'hail science', and that of Prime Minister Modi with the slogan 'mar gaya kisan, Modi ji', 'farmers are dying, Mr. Prime Minister'.
In New Delhi, Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi said a united opposition will demand a special session of Parliament to discuss agrarian distress. Tyagi said the government needed to form a farmers' commission, with statutory status.
Congress spokesperson CP Joshi today termed the fast undertaken by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as "farcical". He said Modi government's demonetisation decision has contributed to farm distress. Joshi said The Congress leader said it was the duty of the Opposition to "awaken" the public about Modi government's "failure" to keep the promises it made to the farmers.
Joshi asked why the PM, who frequently tweets on other issues, has been silent on killing of farmers in police firing. He criticised the Centre for leaving the farm loan waiver to the states and demanded that it should announce a uniform farm loan waiver from central funds. Criticising zero import duty on foodgrains, he alleged the nexus with food grain mafia is evident, as reducing import duty has helped ease imports and farmers are not getting remunerative prices for their produce.
Today, union minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala asked farmers in Madhya Pradesh to learn from farmers in Maharashtra to hold talks with the state government to help it find a solution to their problems. Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh launched their protest on June 1, demanding loan waiver and suitable prices for their produce. On June 6, five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur.
No fresh violence has been reported from Madhya Pradesh today. Several farmer outfits today held protests in many places in Haryana and Punjab over the killings in Mandsaur. In Lucknow, a delegation of the Rashtriya Kisan Manch met Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and sought his intervention in resolving the farmers' issues in the state, including loan waiver and payment of wheat and cane prices.
In Rajasthan, the state unit of Congress plans to hold protests in all the districts on Wednesday. Today, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated farmers' outfit Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) announced it would stage sit-in protests across Rajasthan on June 15. It said it will demand minimum support prices for farm produce and a special assembly session to discuss farmer issues.