New Delhi: As thousands of farmers camped at Ramlila ground in chilling cold Thursday night ahead of their march to Parliament, doctors from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) offered them medical aid and volunteers of local NGO "Khudai Khidmatgar" provided them with tea and breakfast to help them fight the tough weather.
"Our organisation's philosophy as envisioned by its founder Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, is service and public harmony, and so we are here. We Stand its the farmers," PTI quoted Shahjeb Jamal, a civil engineering student at Jamia Islamia and a volunteer with "Khudai Khidmatgar" as saying.
A close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, better known as Sarhadi Gandhi, was a Frontier leader and a renowned freedom fighter. He founded the Khudai Khidmatgar ("Servants of God"), commonly known as the "Red Shirts" (Surkh Pōsh), during the 1920s.
Badsha Khan established the NGO based on his belief in the power of Gandhi's notion of Satyagraha, a form of active non-violence. The organisation recruited over 100,000 members and became legendary in opposing (and dying at the hands of) the British-controlled police and army.
A group of 25-30 doctors also offered medical aid till about 11 pm, some of them took off from work to volunteer. Rashid, a junior resident at AIIMS was among the doctor volunteers who attended to people till night.
"I took an off today from work, as I had to be here. They feed us, and we are not doing any favour by helping them, we are serving them," he told PTI.
Doctors also came from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Rohtak, Chandigarh and other Delhi hospitals to assist farmers, many of whom complained of body ache as they had travelled long distance.
"One person had fainted, so, after first aid, we sent him to LNJP Hospital," said Mahtab Alam, a doctor at a Delhi government hospital.
"Salute to these young doctors, who have come to support our Farmers all the way from Aligarh. Ramlila Maidan Delhi #KisanMuktiMarch #FarmersMarch #FarmersProtest", Kisan organisations said in a message posted on Twitter.
Tens of thousands of farmers from a number of states in India on Friday marched to Parliament amid heavy policy deployment, to press for their demands, including debt relief, remunerative prices for their produce and a special session of the Parliament to discuss their woes.
"The Narendra Modi government has let us down. It lied to farmers", the protesting farmers said while talking to media. "Hear us now", others said.
They also said they have not recovered the input costs and have no money for the education of their kids. The farmers from Kerala, who also joined the protesting farmers from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and other states, said the agriculture sector is in crisis after the flood.
Earlier, about 35,000 farmers from all across India gathered and spent Thursday night at Ramlila ground in New Delhi. They began marching towards the Parliament at around 11:15 am Friday. They reached near the Parliament at around 01:15 pm and were stopped by the Parliament Street Police.
Traffic was affected on the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, the stretch near Guru Nanak Eye hospital, Maharaja Ranjit Singh flyover, Barakhamba Chowk and Janpath on Friday morning. Commuters were advised to avoid these routes.
Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India led a 26-km protest rally from Bijwasan to Ramlila Maidan on Thursday. Farmers from Odisha, Haryana and Rajasthan joined him.
"We are protesting loot and exploitation of farmers. The entire country is with us. Journalists, doctors, students, artists have pledged their support," Yadav said.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (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.
"We want loan waiver, not Ayodhya or Ram mandir", they said.
["We want loan waiver, not Ayodhya or Ram mandir", they said. (Photo: Tweeted by Dhruv Rathee @dhruv_rathee)]
AIKSCC said 21 political parties have extended their support to the bills. It has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the protest march. Friday's rally is the fourth major farmers rally led by the organisation in the last year and a half, which represents over 200 groups.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, NCP stalwart Sharad Pawar, CPI-M Secretary Sitaram Yechuri and others addressed the protesting farmers. The farmers will meet President Kovind today in the evening.
About 1,200 members of the National South Indian River Interlinking Agriculturalists Association reached the national capital in the early hours of Thursday carrying skulls of two of their colleagues who had committed suicide, their leader P Ayyakannu claimed.
The group from Tamil Nadu had threatened to march naked if they are not allowed to go to Parliament on Friday.They had last year staged protests at Jantar Mantar with the skulls of eight farmers who killed themselves owing to losses.
The AIKSCC has claimed that the two-day rally will be one of the largest congregations of farmers in Delhi.
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