Seeking Loan Waiver, Higher MSP, Thousands of Farmers March Into Mumbai

Among the list of demands raised by the farmers include: implementation of Swaminathan Commission report - which recommends increasing the minimum support price (MSP) on farm produce by 150 per cent, a complete loan-waiver for state-wide farmers, allocation of land to adivasi cultivators and increase in compensation to farmers affected by unseasonal rains and hailstorm.

35,000 protesting farmers under the red flag have crossed the Thane octroi naka as their march is headed towards Mumbai.

The farmers are all set to press for their various demands, including a complete loan-waiver.

While the organisers have said they would try to reach the assembly in peaceful manner, the government is likely to stop the protest march at Azad Maidan. The farmers also want pension from the State Government.

The farmers began their march on Tuesday evening with about 25,000 members and their number swelled along the way and reached over 40,000 on the fifth day.

Water Resources, Irrigation minister Girish Mahajan who met a delegation of farmers on Sunday afternoon as the chief minister's representative, expressed confidence that the march will conclude peacefully on Monday and with the resolution of the farmers' grievances.

The farmers, under the aegis of the Left-affiliated AIKS, are demanding, among other things, proper implementation of the Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme. They would submit a memorandum of their demands to the government.

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

In a letter to Modi, Tiwari, who has been working with the farmers, particularly in Vidarbha region for decades, seem to have come out in support of BJP leadership but blamed bureaucrats and administrative machinery for the crisis.

Patidar leader from Gujarat Nikhil Sawani, who joined the march, said his community supported the protesters. Whereas, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray was expected to meet the farmers at 5 pm on Sunday.

As the march reached suburban Vikhroli, the phalanx of farmers - comprising both men and women - extended for nearly three kilometres. They have been claiming that the government has not acted on the promises that were made to them.

Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde has tweeted, "In light of Kisan Long March, SSC students appearing for exams tomorrow are advised to ensure that they reach exam centres well beforehand to avoid delays".

  • Jon Douglas