- Farmers have marched 180 km over 6 days demanding fair pay, debt relief
- Just after midnight, they began moving towards Azad Maidan
- They plan to surround state assembly today, want more than assurances
Today, they plan to surround the state assembly to press for their demands of a complete loan waiver, fair pay and transfer of adivasi land to farmers who have been tilling it for years. The tribals have joined the protest in huge numbers. The huge crowd reached Azad Maidan around 5 am. The protestors had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground before marching towards Azad Maidan, a large ground designated for protests in South Mumbai, shortly after midnight.
The opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Shiv Sena, which is part of the ruling alliance, have extended support to the farmers' demands. Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray met the farmers yesterday. But the farmers are not happy. They want the Sena to speak as representatives of the government and not as a political party.
But the farmers also want the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which says farmers should be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price should be fixed keeping this in mind.
The farmers, who had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sionas night fell on Sunday, began moving towards the Azad Maidan, about 15 km away, just after midnight. From there, they intend to proceed to the state assembly, another 2 km away, later in the day.
Ashok Dhawle, president of the AIKS, said 50,000 people have joined the protests and the number will grow on Monday. Assuring that the protests will not disturb the city, he said, "We will begin our rally after 11 am so that students appearing for their Class 10 board exam don't face any difficulties".
Sunday's protests did not affect traffic in Mumbai, which last year was witness to the huge, silent demonstrations by Maratha groups. Refusing to comment on whether they would be allowed to march to the assembly building tomorrow, joint police commissioner Deven Bharti said, "Top ministers are speaking to them".