By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, November 23, 2017: Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday described the farmers’ fight for their rights and demands as the “second freedom struggle”.

Urging farmers to launch a “do-or-die” stir for their rights on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s agitation against the British, Hazare blamed the centre and the states for neglecting farmers.

“Gandhiji had given the ‘do-or-die’ slogan to oust the British rulers and lakhs came to the streets. Now the time has come for the farmers to launch a similar ‘do-or-die’ agitation to ensure that their rights are protected,” Hazare said while addressing the “Jai Kisan Samabesh” organised by Navnirman Krushak Sangathan at Jagatsinghpur, about 90 km from here.

“When a farmer reaches the age of 60, he should be given a pension by the government. Our fight for the (rights of) farmers has begun. Fighting for farmers’ rights is equivalent to a second freedom struggle,” Hazare said.

The Sangathan organised the convention to demand remunerative prices for farm produce and pension for farmers.

Interestingly, the farmers’ function marked the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Nabakrushna Choudhuri, who ruled the state in the Fifties.

Hazare also paid tributes to former Odisha chief minister and freedom fighter Nabakrushna Choudhury on his 116th birth anniversary on Thursday.

“We have to take a solemn decision on materialising Gandhiji and Choudhuryji’s dream. We’ve to re-install true democracy of the people, by the people, for the people,” said the social activist.

Hazare said, he would tour the country to take the farmers’ fight to its logical end. “Farmers gatherings have been organised in eight states. I will tour the country in the coming days. The fight has started and going to jail for the welfare of farmers and the country is a pride for us,” the social activist added demanding higher crop prices to the farmers.

At least 12 farmers had committed suicide in Odisha this year over crop failure and other issues.

Hazare blasted the governments at the centre and states for not meeting the aspirations of cultivators and told farmers they would not be heard “unless the community raises its voice”.

Hazare said he planned to sit on a dharna at New Delhi and also visit at least eight states and appeal to farmers to launch a non-violent agitation against the prevailing situation.

“I will again sit on a dharna in Delhi early next year for farmers’ rights and the proper implementation of the Lokpal Act,” he said.

Seeking to infuse enthusiasm among the gathered masses, he urged them to ensure there was “no space in jails across the country”.

“Going to a jail for the nation is not a bad thing, but a matter of pride,” he said.

Hazare told the gathering that farmers must get the proper price for their produce and pension after attending the age of 60 years.

Launching a frontal attack on the NDA government at the Centre, he said, “Though Narendra Modi during electioneering had promised to give one-and-half times the cost of production as the minimum support price on agricultural products, he forgot it (the promise) after coming to the power”.

“Now, the government has turned blind and deaf. Only farmers can wake the politicians in slumber,” he said.