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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Farmers to march to Mumbai again to press for unfulfilled promises

Farmers’ outfit All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had held a similar protest in March last year to press for the same demands.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2019 14:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
The march will start on February 20 from Nashik and end in Mumbai’s iconic Azad Maidan on February 27.
The march will start on February 20 from Nashik and end in Mumbai’s iconic Azad Maidan on February 27.(PTI/ Representative Image)
         

Thousands of farmers will once again stage an eight-day march from Nashik to Mumbai to protest, what they say, the failure of the BJP government in Maharashtra in keeping the promises it made after their last agitation.

Farmers’ outfit All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had held a similar protest in March last year to press for the same demands. Nearly 30,000 farmers, including children, women and the elderly, had started from Nashik on March 6 and walked six days to reach Mumbai to highlight their demands. They ended their protest over loan waivers, prices and land rights after the state government agreed to meet their demands.

Also read: What Maharashtra farmers demanded, and got, from the Fadnavis govt

And this time, the march will start on February 20 from Nashik and end in Mumbai’s iconic Azad Maidan on February 27. They have been demanding a revision of the river linking agreement to ensure that water is not diverted to Gujarat, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, transfer of forest land to tribals and pension scheme for farmers.

AIKS’ state secretary Ajit Navale said the BJP government seems insensitive to the demands of the farmers. The organisation is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

“We have no option but to agitate and secure our rights. It is better than committing suicide. Farmers are currently in bad shape, especially due to the drought,” said Navale.

He said that the assurances that were given to farmers during the last march remained on paper and were not implemented by the state government. He said one of the main issue this time would be to force the government to revise the river linking agreement, where it is proposed to divert water to Gujarat.

“How can we divert our state water to Gujarat when we ourselves are facing drought?” Navale asked.

The AIKS has also demanded the construction of small catchment dams to ensure water to the drought-affected areas of the state.

The AIKS also expressed fear that the government will crack down on the march especially when the parliamentary elections are all set to be held in the next few months.

In November last year, Lok Sangharsh Morcha – an outfit that works for the rights of tribals and farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat - held a similar march to demand, among other things, transfer of land rights to 2.31 lakh eligible tribals and relief to drought-affected farmers.

They withdrew their protest following a written assurance from the state government that their demands would be met within three months.

Also read: ‘Temporary truce’: Maharashtra tribals, farmers withdraw stir on government’s written assurances