After Walking For 13-Hours, Maharashtra Farmers Called-Off Their Agitation Post CM's Written Assurance
The unending, agrarian crisis in India is one of the major problems due to which lakhs of debt-ridden farmers have lost their lives. The crisis has a catastrophic impact on the livelihoods of many who are associated with agriculture. The crisis is not very demographic specific but some states have faced the extreme wrath of the crisis.
Just in Maharashtra alone, the number of farmers, who committed suicide from 2001 to October 2017 is 26,339. Of them, 12,805 farmers killed themselves due to the failure of crops, indebtedness and insistence on repayment of the loan. This is the data given by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil in the Maharashtra assembly. In the past, farmers have staged many protests in different parts of the country to demand help from the government.
On Thursday, another such protest was staged in Maharashtra, in which thousands of farmers under the banner of Lok Sangharsh Morcha gathered at the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in Mumbai to protest. The agitation was later called off after the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave a written assurance to fulfil farmer’s demands.
Farmer protest at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
Express video by Ganesh Shirsekar.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) November 22, 2018
They walked for more than 13-hours
According to The Indian Express, on Wednesday, farmers who came from different parts of the state started their march at 1 PM from Mulund Octroi Naka, Mumbai. The protest was a two-day march. Several political parties who came in support of the protest, includes Janata Dal (Secular), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiv Sena. Water conservationist Dr Rajendra Singh and MP Raju Shetty have also come out in support, as reported by The Indian Express.
On Thursday, afternoon, farmers reached Azad Maidan, after a 13-hour-long walk. While talking to the Hindustan Times, a protester said, “I had no money to come here. So, I sold my goat and arranged some money.”
कमला पंडित भी आदिवासी मोर्चे में शामिल होकर सरकार से अपना हक़ माँगने मुंबई के आज़ाद मैदान पहुँची है,कमला जलगांव जिले की रहने वाली है ज़मीन नाम पर ना होने की वजह से रोज़ १००₹ मज़दूरी पर अपना और अपने परिवार का पेट भरती है @TheQuint @QuintHindi pic.twitter.com/NJmHRAEXnk
— rounak kukde (@rounakview) November 22, 2018
Another protester, 100-year-old, Jilabai from Nandurbar district walked from Thane to Azad Maidan. When the protesters reached the Azad Maidan she was called on to the stage where she sang a song criticising the government, reported Hindustan Times.
Major Demands Made By The Protestors
These farmers who walked for more than 40km had several demands. Some of them are as follows.
- Proper implementation of the loan waiver package announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis in 2017.
- Implementation of recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Commission.
- Clearing of tribal farmers’ pending land claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
- Setting up a judicial system to ensure implementation of minimum support price (MSP).
- Drought compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for non-irrigated land and Rs 1 lakh per acre for irrigated land.
Meeting With CM Devendra Fadanvis
On Thursday, a delegation of protesting farmers met CM Fadanvis at Vidhan Bhawan in South Mumbai. CM Fadanvis assured the delegation that land rights will be settled by December this year. Details about the meeting will be handed over to the delegation by Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.
The Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Savra said that of the total 3.6 lakh land claims received, 1.74 lakh have been settled in favour of the tribals, as reported The Indian Express.
This was the third farmer protest in Maharashtra within a year. As per Times Now in March this year, around 25,000 farmers marched under the aegis of All India Kisan Sabha, demanding a farm loan waiver and implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA). In July, dairy farmers protested seeking a hike in milk prices. A few days ago some farmers stopped over 70 trains in Punjab near Dasua in a protest. The farmers were protesting non-payment of sugarcane dues by the state government.
The Logical Indian Take
India’s farmer distress is getting worse with every passing day. Many news reports have surfaced recently which show that the actual price which farmers are getting is well-below the minimum support price(MSP) announced by the government. Central and state governments should not wait for protests to ensure the implementation of MSP and other actions necessary for the welfare of farmers. Effective and robust implementation of long-term policies should be ensured if the government wants to improve the condition of farmers.