Over 45,000 farmers demanding loan waiver, fair price reach Mumbai; CM Fadnavis calls for party meeting to discuss situation

12 March 2018, 07:30 AM

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has called a meeting of officials on Monday to discuss the matter of the 45,000 farmers who marched to Mumbai to press their demands over the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee.

The Chief Minister office had reportedly said that a committee of 6 ministers comprising Chandrakant Patil, Pandurang Fundkar, Girish Mahajan, Vishnu Savara, Subhash Deshmukh and Eknath Shinde to look into the matter of farmers' demands. 

At least 45,000 farmers marched their way into South Mumbai to press their demands over complete loan waiver and transfer of Adivasi lands to farmers at the Vidhan Sabha on Monday. One of the major demand of the union is the implementation of Swaminathan Committee Report.

The farmers group headed towards the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion on Sunday. The Mumbai police had said that they are prepared and have issued a traffic advisory to avoid jams in the city. Along with this, tight security arrangements have been made by the police.

The farmer cluster, along with tribal cultivators, have planned to gherao the Vidhan Sabha on Monday and press their demands over loan waiver and Adivasi lands and the Swaminathan Committee Report. The tribal cultivators, who are a part of the movement, say that this is a matter of life and death for them.

The movement is led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). Ashok Dhawle, president of AIKS, said, “We met Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan today who had assured us that he would take their demands to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.”

He also said, “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,” implying that the city will not be disturbed amid the protests.

The farmer committee began their march on Tuesday evening with sparse meals, brief halts, and sleeping under the open sky. Jidabai Gaikwad, one of the protestors, showed her blisters and told, “I want to tell the Chief Minister that he should transfer the land in our names so that we can work and feed ourselves.”

Ajit Nawale, the state general secretary of AIKS, said, “Our main demand is for a complete loan waiver and the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which says farmers should be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production for what they produce and the MSP's should be fixed keeping this in mind.”

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The march continued to Mumbai, with thousands of red flags wavering in the sky. However, the organisers insisted that it could not be said as a communist protest because it was for a common cause.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Raj Thackrey-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have also offered their support to the movement. Senior Shiv Sena leader, Eknath Shinde, too, visited the protestors late on Friday night. He clarified that he had not come as a minister in the Maharashtra government but with a message from party chief Uddhav Thackrey.

Nawale, however, said, “It's sad the Sena has only offered support. Their presence and the support is welcome but he (Mr Shinde) is a member of the government. Only support is not fair. You call yourselves tigers. When will you use your claws for farmers interests?”

On Sunday, Shiv Sena's Aditya Thackrey met the farmers union and interacted with them in the city.

First Published: Sunday, March 11, 2018 04:33 PM
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