A little after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, a crowd has gathered outside Rajiv Chowk metro station in central Delhi. There are autorickshaw drivers, students, salespersons, middle class professionals and others. Standing by the side of the road, they’re discussing farm issues. A group of volunteers from the Nation For Farmers and Artists For Farmers – citizens’ collectives supporting the Kisan Mukti Morcha on November 29 and 30 – are holding up banners and distributing pamphlets demanding a special 21-day session of Parliament dedicated to the agrarian crisis. Some people, sitting in nearby Central Park, see the volunteers and start asking questions – about the march and the crisis. A conversation begins. Here’s what some of them say:

a computer operator at a Bata store in Connaught Place
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

Sonu Kaushik, 28, works as a computer operator at a Bata store in Connaught Place. He is from Ahri village in Jhajjar block and district of Haryana. “Last year, the farmers from my village had to sell one quintal of bajra for only Rs. 1,000,” he says. “How will a farmer survive? I will bring a lot of my friends to the march.” He asks others nearby why farmers commit suicide. "A farmer takes no holiday, works day and night and still doesn't get any price for the produce. Why does this happen?" He asks them to think why farmers are marching again to Delhi, and understand the moment as a crisis, not see it as a political issue. 

80-year-old homemaker
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

Kamlesh Jolly, an 80-year-old homemaker from Delhi’s Pitampura area, says, “Earlier I knew a lot about the plight of farmers, but now I am completely disconnected because of my health.” She asks me about the venue and dates of the march. “I will be a part of it,” she decides right then.

studying for a master’s degree in Mathematics at Delhi University
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

Divyanshu Gautam, 22, from Safipur town in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, is studying for a master’s degree in Mathematics at Delhi University. “I’ve heard from friends who belong to farming families that they never get a fair price for their produce. They tell me that a lot of cold storage units that are essential to preserve the produce are controlled by private companies [which charge a lot]. This should stop and farmers should have access to subsidised cold storages.”

works as a clerk at a Tis Hazari district court
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

Akash Sharma, 24, from central Delhi, works as a clerk at a Tis Hazari district court. “People always blame farmers when the prices of vegetables increase. A few years ago, when the price of onions rose, everyone was falsely accusing farmers of hoarding them and then increasing the prices. They should understand farmers’ problems and not blame them.” 

Top left-Jayprakash Yadav, an autorickshaw driver 
Top right - A Nation for Farmer volunteer explaining to an auto rickshaw driver about the March
Bottom left - Artists for Farmers volunteers spreading awareness about the March
Bottom right - Nation for Farmers near the Rajiv Chowk metro station
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

ayprakash Yadav, an autorickshaw driver in his late 50s, from Mahuari village in Barsathi block of Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district, asks, “Why are the farmers marching again? Weren’t their demands met when they marched to Mumbai [from Nashik, in March 2018]?” Then, he reconsiders and adds, “Farmers work a lot, but they get nothing for their produce. I will not drive my auto for a few hours and come to the march on the 29th and 30th.”

freelance photographer from Delhi
PHOTO • Sanket Jain

Vicky Roy, 30, a freelance photographer from Delhi, says “People should understand that all of us in urban areas are living on the subsidies of farmers. Farmers never get [a fair] price for their produce. It’s important for us to understand this and support them.”

Sanket Jain

Sanket Jain is a freelance rural journalist based in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and a PARI volunteer.

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