While Modi and Yogi do Yoga, farmers stage ‘corpse pose’ protest
“The government must stop this drama of performing Yoga. Farmers step out of their homes early in the morning and perform Yoga everyday. They need farm loan waiver, not Yoga”
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed Yoga with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and an estimated 50,000 people in Lucknow on Wednesday, farmers across the country marked the International Yoga Day by performing ‘Shavasana’ (corpse pose) to register their protest against agrarian distress that has gripped the nation. They are using this non-violent way to convey that they are on the deathbed because of the government’s continuing apathy towards farmers’ plight.
The International Day of Yoga was ratified by the United Nations in 2014 on PM Modi’s insistence. This farmers’ protests takes away the sheen from the pomp and grandeur which the government had tried to project around International Yoga Day.
In programmes across several towns and district headquarters in Madhya Pradesh, farmers performed ‘Shavasana’ to protest against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who according to them, is responsible for the death of five farmers in police firing in Mandsaur two weeks back.
Led by Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (BKMS), farmers in Bhopal performed ‘Shavasana’, put up effigies to highlight farmer suicides and pledged that the movement would go on.
They also put up posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the slogan, ‘Mar Gaya Kisan, Modi Ji (Farmers are dead, Mr Modi)’. The posters were put up along with the posters of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri with his slogan of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ (Hail the farmer/Hail the soldier) and those of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with his rallying cry of ‘Jai Vigyan’ (Hail science).
“The movement will continue. We want to make people of this country aware about the pitiable condition of farmers,” Shiv Kumar, a farmers’ leader in Madhya Pradesh, told National Herald from Bhopal.
But why ‘Shavasana’? “By performing ‘Shavasana’, we wanted to give the government a message that farmers are now reduced to a dead body. They need better treatment. If we demand loan waiver or good rates, we do not deserve bullets,” he explained.
He questioned the silence of the Prime Minister on killing of farmers in police firing in the state. “Our PM frequently tweets on other issues, but kept silent on killing of farmers in Mandsaur. Is this not hypocrisy,” he asked.
Criticising the Centre’s decision to leave the farm loan waiver decision to the states, Kumar demanded that Delhi must announce a uniform farm loan waiver from Central funds. He also criticised the zero import duty on foodgrains. “Reducing import duty has helped ease imports and farmers are not getting remunerative prices for their produce. This has exposed the government’s nexus with food grain mafia,” he alleged.
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.
In Uttar Pradesh, too, the farmers laid siege of the highways across the state and performed ‘shavasana’ to protest anti-farmers’ policies of the BJP-ruled governments.
“What can you expect from the farmers who have been denied their rights by the BJP government? They are denied good remunerative prices for their produce. The Yogi government announced Minimum Support Price (MSP) for potato but farmers are not getting that price. Even the government has failed to fulfil the promise of crop loan waiver. The farmers who have taken loan and have been declared beneficiary are still getting notice from banks. With empty stomach, you cannot expect farmers to do Yoga. And therefore, we are doing ‘Shavasana’,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Hari Ram Singh Verma told National Herald.
He asked the government to stop the “drama” of performing Yoga and instead give relief to farmers by writing off their loans. “Sarkar Yoga ka drama band kare. Kisan to subah hi ghar se nikal jata hai aur har roz Yoga karta hai. Kisanon ko Yoga nahin, wrin maafi chahiye (The government must stop this drama of performing Yoga. Farmers step out of their homes early in the morning and perform Yoga everyday. They need farm loan waiver, not Yoga),” he further added.
Thousands of farmers held protests across Uttar Pradesh blocking the highway. While the highways in western Uttar Pradesh witnessed almost total disruption, traffic was partially affected in eastern parts of the state. The worst affected districts were Baghpat, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Shamli and Muzaffarnagar. Reports of similar protests are coming in from Varanasi, Bahraich, Aligarh, Barabanki, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao and Allahabad districts.
It was a piquant situation as highways were strewn with wheat, sugarcane, potato and other vegetables and farmers were holding ‘Shavasana’. The protests throughout the state were peaceful. There was no slogan chanting. Some of the farmers were doing other asanas (Yoga postures), while majority of the farmers lied down on mats spread out on highways.
The protest which started at 9 AM continued till 12 noon.
“It was a peaceful protest. It had been decided yesterday in the meeting that farmers will not take law into their hands. This protest was to show our anguish against the BJP-led governments,” said the BKU leader.
He added that school going children, office goers and emergency services like supply of milk or movement of ambulances or police jeeps were not disrupted during the road blockade.
Additional Director General (law and order) Aditya Mishra confirmed that the farmers’ protest did not disrupt public life anywhere in the state. “There were minor blockades but these were removed,” he added.