India

Indian farmers suspend Delhi protest

Farmers from the southern state of Tamil Nadu pose half shaved during a protest demanding a drought-relief package from the federal government, in New Delhi, India April 3, 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption More than 100 farmers from Tamil Nadu protested in Delhi for some 40 days

Drought-hit farmers in India have suspended a protest, after an assurance that their demands would be met.

More than 100 farmers from southern Tamil Nadu state had mounted an eye-catching protest in the capital, Delhi, more than a month ago.

They brandished human skulls, held live mice in their mouths, shaved their heads, and slashed their hands.

They were demanding waivers on farm loan repayments and relief funds, among other things.

Reports say that the farmers, who had been camping in a makeshift tent near Delhi's Jantar Mantar observatory for 40 days, called off their protest on Sunday after an assurance from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami that their demands would be met.

The farmers union said they would resume their protest if their demands were not met by 25 May.

Tamil Nadu is facing its worst farming crisis in decades because of lack of water due to poor rainfall, low crop prices, and dwindling access to formal credit.

More than 50 debt-stricken farmers have taken their lives in drought-affected districts since October, according to officials. A local farmers association insists the number of farm-related suicides and death of farmers is more than 250.

The farmers are demanding ample drought relief funds, pensions for elderly farmers, a waiver on repayments of loans, better prices for their crops and the interlinking of rivers to irrigate their lands.