Hundreds of peasants in Nohar tehsil in Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, organized under the banner of Sarvadaleeya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, locked up the premises of the branch of State Bank of India at Gandhi Chowk and staged a dharna outside the bank, on February 28. All operations at the bank had to be closed down. The peasants were protesting against the decision of the banks to auction the land deposited by them with the banks as mortgage for the loans they have taken.
The Rajasthan government is reported to have recently ordered the banks to auction the land mortgaged by the debtor peasants in various poverty-stricken villages of the state.
Addressing the protesting peasants, the leaders of the agitation denounced the anti-peasant policies of the central and state governments, which were compounding the misery of the peasants. If the government was to ensure a remunerative price and guaranteed procurement of their produce, the speakers declared, each and every peasant could be debt-free. But the government, in league with the banks and insurance companies, is looting the peasants.
The peasants were also agitating against the cancellation of their crop insurance premium by the banks and scrapping of the crop insurance scheme. Many of them claimed that the insurance premium they had paid was returned to their bank accounts, thereby nullifying the insurance scheme.
The agitating peasants clashed with the police, which had been deployed in large numbers to quell the agitation. But in the face of the wrath of the peasants, the police was forced to withdraw.
Faced with the continued agitation of the peasants and the locking up of the bank premises, the bank authorities were forced to come to an agreement with the peasants. After the written agreement had been signed, the peasants called off the dharna at the bank and unlocked the premises.
The terms of the written agreement were as follows:
A letter would be written to the collector to cancel the auction of the lands of the peasants who have received such a notice.
The cases of the peasants, who had paid their premium for the crop insurance in July 2017 but whose premium was returned into their bank accounts in September 2017, will be investigated and correspondence will be started between the banks and insurance companies in this matter.
All attempts will be made to give the peasants the crop insurance amount.
Cases of the peasants who were denied compensation for the 2017 kharif crop will be investigated.
Application forms for loans will be printed in Hindi language rather than in English, to make them easier for the peasants to understand.
Peasants will be shown the list of insurance premium installments paid by them.
Speakers who addressed the peasants included All India Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Comrade Hanuman Prasad Sharma; Jila Parishad member, Mangesh Chowdhry; President of Asinchit Kshetra Sangharsh Samiti, Mahant Gopalnath and president of the block Congress committee, Sohan Dhill. Other activists present on the occasion included Hansraj Sharma, Niyamat Ali, Suresh Swami, Rakesh Nehara, Pratap Mehariya and Surjit Vijaraniya.