Nearly 50,000 farmers, who began their protest march from Nashik last Tuesday reached Mumbai on Sunday after five days of arduous walk. They’ve, so far, covered a distance of over 180 kms.
Such has been their determination that many of them have chosen to walk with bare and blistered feet in scorching heat. Led by Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), these farmers are protesting for remunerative prices, implementation of Swaminathan Committee recommendations (which includes better minimum support price for farm produce) and Forest Rights Act, stopping wasteful projects like Bullet train and irrigation projects to help other farmers.
The videos of swirling crowd holding red flags during their brisk walk have gone viral on social media platforms, forcing even some of the Hindi and English TV channels to take note of this unprecedented protest. One of the reasons why the media at large has been reluctant to cover the protest march is largely because this has the potential to embarrass the ruling BJP in Maharashtra.
The media’s apathy to the farmers’ protest of this magnitude has not gone unnoticed on social media, where it was widely condemned.
Good example of Paid media..
Not many news channels show #KisanLongMarch..
They are happy to show u about Shami Contraversie, Jayaprada- Aajam, UP elections, pls show some Pride for ur feeder.. pic.twitter.com/CWsTGGRBLP
— suraj khandekar (@Khandekar001Sk) March 11, 2018
It’s a shame that it requires the BBC to cover a protest of this scale in our country.
Meanwhile, if 1 flop B’wood actor, 1 flop director & 5 wankers from the IT cell protest in Delhi about too much salt in their dhokla, our media will do wall to wall coverage. #KisanLongMarch https://t.co/udtTOklhZE
— The Last Caveman (@CarDroidusMax) March 8, 2018
Hindian media, have you all gone to hell? You went berserk in your 24/7 coverage of that sanghi stooge Anna Hazare. No time for these poor farmers troubles now? #KisanLongMarch #आक्रोश_बळीराजाचा pic.twitter.com/zjXIdckW1p
— Sankar Das (@mallucomrade) March 10, 2018
North Korean Media Headlines Today.
30,000 farmers were trying to flee from Mumbai International Airport after defaulting loans.
— Keerthi? (@TheDesiEdge) March 11, 2018
Heartening to see the media, so far, cover the #KisanLongMarch as an agrarian issue and not a traffic issue.
— Parth MN (@parthpunter) March 11, 2018
It now increasingly looks very news from bhakth media is fake, they do not have anything credible, so the attempt is to high jack SM with fake virus.#KisanLongMarch
— DINESH KUMAR (@CDKUMAR47) March 11, 2018
Has our media woken up from the slumber? Can they ignore this #KisanLongMarch anylonger? If a crowd of 1000 urban elites did a 3 hour hunger strike againt “corruption” or “intolerance” u guys would have nothing else talk abt the entire week.
— ?️Aaron?️ (@ROALY) March 11, 2018
— Vishal Choradiya (@VishalChoradiya) March 9, 2018
Unaffected by the inadequate media coverage, the farmers continued with their journey towards Mumbai. Ashok Dhawle, president of the AIKS, was quoted by NDTV, “We started with 25,000 and today our strength touched the 50,000 mark. It will swell further tomorrow, but it will not disturb the city. We will begin our rally after 11 am so that students appearing for their Class 10 board exam don’t face any difficulties.” These farmers, who are reeling under a huge agrarian crisis, has been demanding the proper implementation of the loan waiver scheme, announced Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last year.
“The state government declared a loan waiver package, but 1,753 farmers have committed suicide [since then] because it has failed miserably because of poor implementation. Around 30,000 farmers have come together for the agitation demanding their rights,” Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, ABKS was quoted by Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has extended its support to the protesting farmers with the party’s chairperson, Aditya Thackeray, meeting them shortly after they entered Mumbai.
On Saturday, senior Shiv Sena functionary and minister in the Maharashtra government, Eknath Shinde, had met the farmers and assured his party’s support. While in Thane, Shiv Sena supporters had made arrangements for drinking water and medical facilities for the protesting farmers.