Among thousands who thronged the national capital to register their protest against increasing expenditure and decreasing farm income, there were wives of farmers who had committed suicide. At least four women, wives of cotton farmers from Telangana who killed themselves, had marched to the parliament. They held photographs of their husbands close to their hearts. Even though they couldn't speak or understand Hindi or English, their pain didn't need a language for its expression.
Kavitha, who came from Nalgonda's Manimadde village, has three children to look after. Her husband committed suicide three years ago. He had taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh and couldn't pay it back. The stress was increasing by the day.
In her village, 10 cotton farmers committed suicide over the last year after their crops were destroyed due to drought.
"We have come here to demand compensation from the government," Kavitha said.
Kavitha, who lives with her mother-in-law, is forced to work as a farm hand to make ends meet. She wants to educate her children, but doesn't have enough money to send them to school.
"We own some land, but I could not get a loan for it so had to start working in the farms. There has been no monetary support from the government," Kavitha added.
Thousands of farmers from 24 states had joined the protest to demand farm loan waivers and better prices for their produce on Thursday.
The sprawling Ramlila ground turned into a sea of red as farmers wearing caps and carrying flags gathered, raising slogans like "Ayodhya nahi, karzi maaf chahiye (We don't need Ayodhya but debt waiver)".
Nalgonda in Telangana is infamous for farmer suicides. Around 3,000 farmers from the state had come to Ramlila Maidan and began their march to the parliament this morning amid heavy policy deployment.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu brought skulls and bones allegedly of farmers who committed suicide.
"Our main agricultural activities include paddy cultivation, cotton farming, horticultural activities like coconut cultivation and banana cultivation. More than 700 farmers have committed suicide in Tamil Nadu due to loans they could not repay. We have no water and have been suffering from drought like situations for the last five years. This year, too, we suffered due to storms," one of the protesting farmers said.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee or AIKSCC, the umbrella body for farmers' groups, demanded a special session of parliament to pass bills seeking a loan waiver and better prices for crops. It has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the protest march. Today's rally is the fourth major farmers rally led by the organisation in the last year and a half, which represents over 200 groups.
Representatives of 21 political parties, including opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury, Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal, stood together on the stage at the massive gathering.
The ruling BJP at the centre didn't meet the farmers or hear their grievances, but scoffed at the movement.