Mumbai: The state of Maharashtra is witnessing an unprecedented protest with at least 35,000 farmers marching in Mumbai demanding a complete loan waiver. The march started from Nashik district and the protesting farmers entered the state capital today.
They camped at the Thane-Mumbai border this morning before heading for the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion. The traffic police say they are prepared and have also issued a traffic advisory to avoid jams in the city. Elaborate security arrangements are also in place, police said. The protest has been called by All India Kisan Sabha.
Here are the highlights on the farmers' protest in Maharashtra.
The huge crowd, that had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground, have started moving towards Azad Maidan, a large ground designated for protests in South Mumbai, shortly after midnight.
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".
Sources said the protesters will not be allowed to proceed beyond Azad Maidan and a delegation will be allowed to come to the Vidhan Bhavan to meet the Chief Minister. The farmers say the march to the assembly is on, but the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which is spearheading the protest, also say they are willing to consider what the government offers.
The farmers, who had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion, said they plan to move towards the Azad Maidan, about 15 km away, around midnight. From there, they will proceed to the state assembly, another 2 km away, on Monday.
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 today. But the farmers are not happy. They want the Sena to speak as representatives of the government and not as a political party.
This evening, as the procession teemed into Mumbai, Girish Mahajan, senior minister in the cabinet of Devendra Fadnavis, welcomed the march at Mulund in suburban Mumbai. "We are sad that farmers have come all the way to protest," he said, adding that the government, which has met some earlier demands, will consider the fresh wish-list.
After walking with blistered feet for about 180 km in the blazing sun over the last six days, thousands of farmers from Maharashtra's Nashik district entered Mumbai on Sunday, turning the arterial roads of India's financial capital into a sea of red. Their numbers swelled from 35,000 to 50,000 over the day, organisers of the march said.
On Monday, the farmers 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 that has camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground, will start to move towards Azad Maidan, a large ground designated for protests in South Mumbai, around midnight.
The AIKS President earlier said that people of the Mumbai would not be inconvenienced.
Ashok Dhawle, president of the AIKS, said they met Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan today who had assured them that he would take their demands to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
To press their demands for complete loan waiver and transfer of adivasi land to farmers who have been tilling it for years, the farmer contingent, including tribal cultivators plans to gherao the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow.
The Long March entered Mumbai at around 10 am this morning from the Anandnagar Toll Plaza, Mulund via Eastern Express Highway and went through Vikhroli, Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, Chheda Nagar, Suman Nagar, and will reach the Somaiyya Ground in Sion at around 9 pm.
The Mumbai traffic police has issued an advisory on restrictions and diversions to take place on certain roads between 9 am to 10 pm, in view of the "Long March" by Maharashtra farmers that has reached Mumbai after a grueling five-day 180-km long journey from Nashik.
Aditya Thackrey met the protesting farmers this evening.
#WATCH: Over 30,000 farmers of All India Kisan Sabha march in protest demanding a complete loan waiver among other demands. The march started from Nashik and reached Mumbai today. #Maharashtrapic.twitter.com/dKinWWnmhf- ANI (@ANI) March 11, 2018