Maharashtra farmers' protest: Over 20,000 farmers on 2-day march from Thane to Mumbai
Thane: Over 20,000 farmers have started a two-day march from Thane to Mumbai's iconic Azad Maidan, eight months after a similar protest saw a sea of red - formed by farmers in red caps - on a long march through Maharashtra. The farmers are demanding compensation for drought, an unconditional farm loan waiver and the transfer of forest rights to tribals. In the run-up to the 2019 national election, states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have been facing massive farmer protests. On November 18, over 70 trains were disrupted in Punjab near Dasua, where farmers sat on rail tracks protesting non-payment of sugarcane dues by the state government.
Here are the top 10 points about the farmers protest
Farmers across Maharashtra gathered at Thane overnight for the march that will be led by Swaraj Abhiyan activist Yogendra Yadav and conservationist Rajendra Singh.
They will march to Azad Maidan in Mumbai and may protest near the Mantralaya or the state secretariat.
Farmer leaders claim the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has not yet kept promises made during talks to end the March agitation; the protesters had demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee Report, which said farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water.
The farmers are also demanding an increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a judicial system to ensure its implementation.
"Two bills to ensure these rights were drafted by the All India Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AISCC) and placed in parliament but both bills have been languishing. More than 60 per cent of the voters in India are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. The ruling party and opposition will now understand the gravity of this problem," Avik Saha, leader of Jai Kisan Andolan told NDTV.
Others like doctors and lawyers are also supporting the farmers' protest, the activist said. "It's about national food security," said Mr Saha.
Backing the protest, the CPM tweeted: "Damning report on Modi's demonetisation disaster from the horse's mouth! Agriculture Ministry admits note bandi hit farmers badly, at time when farmers from across India head to Delhi to mark their anger in the form of a massive Kisan Long March to parliament."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, said his "government is aiming to double farmers' income by 2022." He slammed the Congress for repeatedly "cheating farmers" by making "fake promises" on their loan waiver schemes.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday held talks with agitating sugarcane farmers and assured a higher minimum price. "I have met with sugarcane farmers from across the state and assured them MSP for their cane and support in settling dues from sugar mill owners," said Mr Kumaraswamy, after meeting the farmers and mill representatives.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also directed officials on Tuesday to ensure that the pending Rs 6,830 crore arrears were immediately paid to the cane farmers. He said that Rs 1,000 crore had been released as the first installment of the easy loan scheme worth Rs 4,000 crore.