State agrees to demands: Maharashtra farmers call off protest

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MUMBAI: The farmers called off their 180 KM march as the Devendra Fadnavis government of Maharashtra has agreed to their demands. There are thousands of protesting farmers who have been pouring into Mumbai for the last two days.

 

The government has given its acceptance in writing, said state minister Chandrakant Patil, after a delegation of farmers met government representatives this afternoon. Mr Fadnavis said the Chief Secretary will do the follow-up. Nearly 50,000 farmers, demanding loan waiver and updated minimum support price, assembled in Mumbai after a grueling 180-km, six-day march from Nashik, with plans to gherao the assembly. The protest was called off after the government's acceptance.

 Maharashtra's farmers on Monday said that it was their combined strength, which made the government bow down in front of them and accept their demands.

Talking ANI, a farmer from Nashik, who participated in the protest, also expressed gratitude to the people who supported them in their massive protest.

"The Government has accepted our demands, we are happy. Leaders of every party and the people of Mumbai supported us. Our strength combined with theirs hence this result," said Sanjay Sukhdev, a farmer who was participating in the protest.

"We are very happy. Our demands have been met. We will be getting back our land which is like a mother to us," said Suresh Jairam, another farmer from Nashik.

Farmers, who gathered here to participate in the protest march called by the All India Kisan Sabha's farmers from across the state called off their protest after the state government gave specific commitments on two of the protestors' nine demands and assured in writing the rest would be looked into by committees it would constitute.

Earlier on Monday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, said he was extremely positive in fulfilling the demands of the farmers and that his government was trying since day one of the march to discuss various issues with the farmers.

Over 30,000 farmers held a protest march, walking for about 180 km in the sun from CBS Chowk in Nashik to Mumbai's Azad Maidan.

The protest, which was held to demand a complete loan waiver among other things, commenced on March 5.

The farmers of the state have been demanding an unconditional waiver of loans and electricity bills; implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations; announcement of minimum support price for agriculture produce; and a pension scheme for farmers.

Major point lowdown on the farmers' demand:

  1. The farmers, who have been demanding an unconditional loan waiver scheme after some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government's initiative last year, decided to hold a march to Mumbai to register their dissent. The scorching sun, blistered and cracked feet and sparse meals didn't deter them.
  2. The Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which spearheaded the march, wants the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission that mandates farmers be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price be fixed for their produce.
  3. The adivasis or tribal cultivators, who joined the march in huge numbers, want the land they have been tilling for years to be transferred to their names and implementation of the Forest Rights Act, which they say will benefit them.
  4. The farmers want the state government to stop forceful acquisition of farm lands for projects such as super highways and bullet trains. Inter-linking of rivers and to discontinue sharing of waters with Gujarat was another concern that they wanted to discuss.
  5. They also want a compensation of Rs. 40,000 per acre for farmers whose crops were hit by hailstorm and pink bollworm.
  6. Even though the farmers planned to begin their march towards the Vidhan Sabha after 11 am, they chose to walk at night so that the students appearing for their Board exams weren't affected and the traffic ran smoothly.
  7. 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. Thousands of Mumbaikars also turned up on roads with food and footwear to support the protesters.
  8. In a tweet, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said, "The mammoth #FarmersMarchToMumbai is a stunning example of people's power. The Congress party stands with the Farmers & Tribals marching to protest against the Central & State Govts. apathy. I appeal to PM Modi and the CM to not stand on ego and to accept their just demands".
  9. BJP lawmaker Poonam Mahajan, however, triggered controversy, saying, "I respect these farmers but what bothered me the most is that these farmers are holding communist flags. I hope farmers will not be used for political agendas in the future".
  10. The Shiv Sena said it would back them regardless of their red flags.Lakhs of farmers are yet to get benefits of the loan waiver scheme, the party said, alleging that the government only indulged in advertisements for political benefits.

Source: ANI & NDTV, Image credits: NDTV

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