Nearly 50,000 farmers reach Mumbai, will protest outside Maharashtra assembly tomorrow

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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.

farmers
Photo: @mahacpimspeak

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.

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.

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