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Farmers await a positive response from the system

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
By Shaiber Raichur and Parth Khatau. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

Over 50,000 farmers from all over Maharashtra gathered and staged a protest at Azad Maidan yesterday. The farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai in order to impress on the government to fulfill their demands. Not wanting the protest to disturb the daily schedule of Mumbaikars, they decided to enter the city in the wee hours of the morning. They reached Azad Maidan at 6 am, before reaching the Maharashtra Assembly for the meeting with the State Government to discuss their demands by 1pm. Thousands of farmers were seen at Azad Maidan waiting for a reply from the chief minister until that time. Due to the long distances covered, many of them ended up with foot injuries.

 Bravely taking on the summer heat, the farmers sat in protest without any food or water. In their support, many Mumbaikars, as well as the political parties, were seen distributing food and water to them. The BMC  also supported the farmers by providing water tankers and toilet facilities.

The police authorities were present at various locations across the city for the past two days, despite no proper food or water being provided tpo them, as they were busy handling the huge crowd. Around 3-4 ambulances were present, in case of a medical emergency. Some of the farmers were seen singing traditional Marathi songs during the protest.

Speaking with The Afternoon D&C, Vatsala Kadale, a farmer from Pinduri village in Nashik said, “Since six days we are walking for our rights. The government should not ignore us as we have come from such a far distance and should fulfill our demands. My land is under the forest department and now they are not transferring it to us, we want our land. Unless and until our demands are not fulfilled we are not going to leave this place”.

Vasudev More said, “At the age of 73 we have come all the way walking from Nashik. No one is there to look after us, we are living a very miserable life. CM Devendra Fadnavis should listen to our demands and should help us by giving us our rights”.

According to Ramdas Gangude, “We have come here in the hope that the government will not ask to pay the loan and will provide us facilities and demands so that we can do farming peacefully. In my house, we are 11 people in total, both my sons are well educated but they are not getting jobs. Due to the debt we are helpless and are unable to work on our farms too. This is how we are surviving. There are times we don't even have money to buy vegetables or grains to eat. We are going to sit here unless and until the government listens to us or else we will die sitting here, but will not take a step back”.

Madhukar Usale noted, “We are not getting our rights and the government is continuously ignoring us and our problems. We work hard as we also have our family to feed, but no one is watching us. We don't get new ration cards, sometimes we get grains at higher rates and due to all these reasons we don't have money and are even unable to do our farming. Our demands should be fulfilled”.

Tarabai Gangawane observed, “The system has promised us to fulfill our demands but up to now no changes can be seen.

This is how we are trying to ask for our demands to the system by protesting against them. Now after seeing all this we don't believe in the system's false promises and we want results”.

After speaking with the political parties about the farmer's march, Chitralekha Patil, President, Raigad district Women Cell, said, “When a common man faces difficulties, at that time they decide to protest against something. The farmers are demanding their rights which is totally genuine. Shetkari Kamgar Paksha has always worked for the betterment of the farmers and to get their demands fulfilled. Along with me and MLA Jayant Patil, many workers from our party are with the farmers. Some of our party members came walking with the farmers. We have arranged homemade food for the farmers as well as potable water. The system should listen to the farmers because these people who are sitting in this hot sun are truly the sons of the soil”.

Pandurang Sakpal, Vibhag Pramukh, Southern region, said, “This protest is for the right thing and we support it. Shiv Sena head Uddhav Thackeray and chief of the Yuva Sena Aditya Thackeray are fully supporting this protest. We tried our best by providing ambulance facilities as well as food. The farmers have decided that until their demands are fulfilled they are not going to go back”.

Board exams go through smoothly
State Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan on Sunday night met  the farmers, requesting them to enter the city early on Monday morning in order to avoid any traffic disruptions the protest could cause, inconveniencing students appearing for their 10th and 12th standard Board Examinations.

Around 50,000 protestors marched into the city early yesterday morning, reaching Azad Maidan at 6 am. No disruptions in traffic and examination schedules were noted and students appearing for their board exams were able to reach their centres on time, with no inconvenience caused. The farmers' considerate gesture towards the students was hailed on social media, with many students heaping praise on the protest being well organised.

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