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

Thousands of farmers reach Mumbai, to surround assembly

A veritable "red sea" of more than 30,000 protesting farmers of Maharashtra, led by the All India Kisan Sabha, arrived in Mumbai's Azad Maidan on Monday morning as they marched overnight from the KJ Somaiya Ground, so as to not inconvenience students going to exams on Monday. Sensing massive traffic chaos and harassment of the examinees, the state government came up with a last-minute plan of asking the farmers, who commenced the 180- km long march from Nashik on March 6 and entered the city yesterday, to start by 1 am and reach Azad Maidan by 6 am on Monday.

"We will not end our protest until they give us written assurances around fulfilling our demands", said Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, the organiser of the march.

The farmers say they want to be paid at least one-and-a-half times the cost of their crops. "I am confident that the farmers can expect a positive outcome at tomorrow's meeting". The loan waiver announced by the state government has not reached farmers effectively. Many farmers leaders said that it should not be considered as a communist protest as it is for the betterment of the farmers.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said that he will discuss the grievances of the farmers with a group of ministers and the representatives of the farmers. Still, if the Fadnavis Government tries to dilly-dally on the issue of farm loan waiver or take the farmers for a ride, it will pay heavily for its act.

The agitating farmers included men and women. The committee of ministers will meet once a week and ensure time-bound compliance of demands.

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BJP is not just facing flak from the opposition but its estranged ally Shiv Sena has also extended its support to the protesting farmers. Sena and MNS workers were on streets to welcome the farmers and extend logistical as well as moral support to the march.

"There is a severe crisis of water for farming". He had led the farmers' strike a year ago which led to the blocking of milk and vegetable supplies to the cities for few days.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the farmers should get their "rightful due" from the BJP-led state government. We have covered the whole distance by continuously walking, short breaks and slept under the open sky.

Currently, the budget session of Maharashtra state legislature is underway.

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