Why these Indian farmers brought human skulls to a protest?

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When farmers from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu gathered for a protest in the Indian capital of New Delhi, they brought human skulls to make a statement – plight of those from their community being forced to commit suicide.

Farmers wearing green dhotis and holding skulls, took to the streets to protest what is being called the worst drought the state have ever seen. Among the protesters was Rama Naidu, a qualified aeronautical engineer from Vellore, who sat on a pavement in the city with other farmers and laid out the symbolic skulls before them.

According to Naidu, “We protest with skulls because that is how we will end up soon if our distress continues. Debts have accumulated for years and the drought has hit us badly. We don’t just want our loans to be waived, we want the system to change for agriculture and peasants to survive”, The Telegraph Times reported.

The protesters have said that over the past six months, approximately 400 farmers have committed suicide. They also claimed that some of the skulls that they have brought belong to farmers remains, which apparently have been dug out of their graves. The Tamil Nadu government announced in January that a compensation will be given for the families of farmers who ended their lives.

The state of Tamil Nadu has suffered its worst drought in 140 years and the farmers who have been protesting are demanding a waiver of all loans from banks and private lenders. They are also demanding fair prices for agricultural produce, and interlinking of rivers.

The burden of debt on these farmers have been compounded by drought like conditions, which ruined both their summer and winter crops, forcing over 60 farmers to commit suicide, and killing many others.

Most of the 100 odd farmers are from Trichy, Karur and Thanjavur regions, and they have been protesting to gain the attention of the central government, so that their loans from nationalised banks may be written off.

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