Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Maharashtra farmers march: Agitators arrive at agreement with govt, withdraw stir

Maharashtra farmers march: Agitators arrive at agreement with govt, withdraw stir

The thousands of farmers, who were protesting in support of their demands at Azad Maidan in the city, called off their agitation after Maharashtra Government accepted their demands.The protest was called off after they reached an agreement with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The state also assured organisers of the march that farm land would not be acquired without consent for projects, including the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi expressway and the bullet train project.

Farmers demanded a broader debt waiver program after some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government's initiative past year. According to reports, 2,414 farmers killed themselves in the state between January 1 and October 31, 2017.

The CPI (M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha led the protest, where farmers demanded an unconditional loan waiver, and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years.

To ignore it, or to discredit this peaceful yet powerful movement as something trivial or as an attention gimmick by the opposition would have only meant to endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Indigenous women and others who rely on the forests for a living face additional challenges in claiming rights to forest land and produce, despite the 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) that was meant to benefit a fifth of India's population. The meeting to address the agrarian distress had followed a march by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) - peasants front of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) - from Nashik to Mumbai.

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Middle Class homeowners most prominently the Sikh Community of Mumbai, were seen distributing food to the farmers participating in the march.

Farmers at the site of a protest rally in Mumbai on Monday.

In order to avoid inconvenience to locals on their weekday commute, especially Class 10 and 12 students whose board exams are underway, the protesters ditched the original plan to halt at Somaiya Grounds, Sion, in central Mumbai, and continued their walk towards Azad Maidan in south Mumbai Sunday night. No traffic diversions were reported.

"Some more farmers are expected to join the march from neighbouring districts". On Saturday, when the march reached Thane, residents came out and interacted with the farmers.

"Today, if the farmers demands are not conceded, they will shake up the state and the Center, and install a government of their choice", he said. The farmers, however, refused to accept donations.

The Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Shiv Sena, which is part of Maharashtra's ruling alliance, have extended support to the farmers' demands.

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