Promises made by political leaders at a farmers' protest in New Delhi on Friday were met with scepticism from several participants, who said they will believe them once they see a change on the ground.
Dubbed as the largest farmers' congregation in Delhi, around 35,000 farmers, from across India, converged at the Parliament Street police station Thursday after their march was stopped by the administration.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party leader Dharmendra Yadav, Communist party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader S Sudhakar Reddy, AAP MP Sanjay Singh and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah were among the leaders who joined the farmers at Jantar Mantar.
Kumud, a farmer from West Bengal's Sunderbans, demanded middlemen be removed and loans waived, and said all her life she has heard promises of opposition parties, but she will believe them only if they stay true to their word.
She was among the farmers, who marched to the Ramlila Ground on Thursday, took out a rally to Parliament Street Friday morning to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
The carrot and tomato farmer undertook a 48-hour journey from the Sunderbans -- a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers -- to reach Delhi.
"I want them to remove the middlemen, they eat most of our profits and leave us nowhere. Their commission at times is 200 per cent," the 50-year-old farmer said.
She alleged that even this year, the middlemen bought tomatoes from her at Rs 5 and sold it for Rs 30 per kilogram to consumers.
"I know a number of leaders here who promised us many things, but I will believe their promise only when they fulfil it," she said.
Ram Kumar from Bihar's Sigori village said they are here to demand their rights and not ask for alms.
"I have seen all leaders who are not in power make tall promises but as soon as they come to power they have memory loss," he said.
"The protest was held to make people realise of our plight which has brought us on the brink of starvation. Even if a fraction of the promises made to us are fulfilled then we would not return back to Delhi to protest," the framer said. -- PTI
Image: Participating farmers in the Kisan Mukti March, in New Delhi, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Photograph: Ravi Choudhary/PTI Photo