All India Kisan Sabha's protest march reaches Thane

12 March, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Farmers march to Mumbai to lay siege to Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha

Among other things, the farmers are demanding a complete waiver of loans, implementation of M.S. Swaminathan Commission recommendations (which ensures fair remuneration), waiver of power bills and transfer of forest lands.

Over 30,000 farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai travelling 180 kilometres over six days. The march that started with 12,000 people from the CBS Chowk in Nashik on March 6 has now been joined by almost 18,000 more farmers taking the number of agitators to 30,000.

State agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said the marching farmers hadn't reached out to the government.

The farmers, who had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion, said they plan to move towards the Azad Maidan, about 15 km away, around midnight. "Unless the government gives us something concrete, commits itself in writing, we will march towards the Vidhan Bhavan tomorrow", he said. They want the Sena to speak as representatives of the government and not as a political party.

Speaking to mid-day, state general secretary of ABKS, Ajit Nawale, said, "In the past, we have given several memorandums to the government, but nothing has been done. How can the government let billionaires like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya (another fugitive) have gala time at foreign shores and farmers suffer because of increasing debts?" asked a protesting farmer.

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The agitating farmers are now heading towards the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion. The farmers say the march to the assembly is on, but the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which is spearheading the protest, also say they are willing to consider what the government offers.

Fundkar added that he will decide how to handle the protest, and approach the farmers after discussions with the chief minister.

If loan waiver is provided to all the farmers without any guidelines then the burden on the State exchequer will increase to ₹35,000 crore. It indicates that the movement is getting support of farmers across the state and becoming intense. The government is merely pretending to fulfil its promises. Whereas, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray was expected to meet the farmers at 5 pm on Sunday.

Extending his party's support to the farmers' agitation, NCP president Sharad Pawar said: "The long-march organised by the farmers is of extreme importance. All Congress legislators (are) with the farmers", the Congress leader said.

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