Maharashtra farmers call off protest; Fadnavis bows to pressure: Highlights

Farmers of All Indian Kisan Sabha in Mumbai (Photo: PTI)
The gruelling 200-km, six-day long 'Long March' by over 35,000 farmers ended on a positive note, with the Maharashtra government conceding most demands on Monday evening. The decision was announced at a rally addressed by state ministers along with farmers' leaders at Azad Maidan where the peasants arrived at dawn on Monday, following which the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) leaders announced that the agitation was withdrawn.

"We held very cordial discussions and have conceded most of the demands of the tribals, labourers and farmers who took part in the march," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced here. According to a Kisan Sabha leader, the main demands pertained to complete implementation of the loan waiver scheme announced last year, implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, and compensation for victims of damage to cotton crops following bollworm infestation and the unseasonal rains and hailstorm.

On implementing the Forest Rights Act, Fadnavis said that all pending claims/appeals shall be cleared in six months. About the farm loans waiver, the government said it had already distributed funds to banks for 46.52 lakh farmers and 35.51 lakh farmers had been disbursed their loan waiver amounts. On the implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission report, he said the government would pursue it with the centre.

Additionally, farmers who were not entitled to the loan waiver scheme of 2008 shall be brought under the ambit of the current Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana, and farmers from 2001 onwards would now get the benefits.

Similar satisfactory outcome was reported for other demands including water projects, the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana, Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme, fixing of milk rates and pending issues with ration cards to enable farmers and poor get ration at fair price shops.

Kisan Sabha leaders including Ajit Nawale expressed satisfaction over the outcome.

The 35,000-plus farmers, including men, women and youths, who halted under the scorching sun at the historic Azad Maidan since dawn will prepare to return to their homes later tonight.

Marching under the AIKS banner, the farmers wing of the CPI-M, many sported red caps and carried red party flags or banners, their lunch wrapped in newspapers. They walked almost 200 km for nearly 150 hours since March 6 and reached Mumbai late on Sunday night.

Some had swollen eyes and blistered feet and wore torn clothes.

The agitators, presently camped at Azad Maidan, have toiled their way walking from Maharashtra's Nashik district. The agitating farmers, joined by tribals, had halted at the KJ Somaiya Ground before making their way to Azad Maidan.

Here are the top 10 developments around the Maharashtra farmers' protest at Azad Maidan:

1. Shed ego, says Rahul to Modi

The Congress today put its weight behind farmers and tribals protesting in Mumbai, as party president Rahul Gandhi urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis "not to stand on ego" but to accept the demonstrators' "just demands".

The massive farmers' march to Mumbai was a "stunning example of people's power", Gandhi said on Twitter.

The mammoth #FarmersMarchToMumbai is a stunning example of people’s power. The Congress party stands with the Farmers & Tribals marching to protest against the Central & State Govts. apathy.

I appeal to PM Modi and the CM to not stand on ego and to accept their just demands.

— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) March 12, 2018
2. We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis on Maharashtra Farmers' agitation.

3. Farmers can uproot governments, warns Yechury

Warning the ruling BJP, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Monday said that farmers can "uproot governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra" if they failed to concede their just demands.

Reaching Mumbai to address a rally of farmers' after their six-day Long March, he said the farmers were the "new soldiers of India" and like the jawans who protect the country's borders the peasantry produces food for the people.

"Any party which ignores the cause of farmers will not survive. Last year, for the first time in the country, Maharashtra farmers had gone on 'strike' which resulted in the announcement of a farm loan waiver package. But after 10 months, it remains unimplemented," Yechury said.

4. Farmers' Long March: Sharad Pawar, Anna Hazare flay BJP

Former union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and social crusader Anna Hazare on Monday strongly criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and in Maharashtra for letting down the farmers.

Speaking to the media in Mumbai and Ralegan-Siddhi (Ahmednagar), the two senior leaders asked why over 30,000 farmers were compelled to march nearly 200 km from Nashik to Mumbai for six days if the government was serious about accepting their demands.

"Why could the state government not depute a team to Nashik to discuss the grievances of the farmers and resolve it? Its four years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, but the promises of minimum support price for farm produce has not been implemented," Pawar said.

5. Dabbawals, Mumbaikars provide food to protesting farmers

The famed 'dabbawalas' of Mumbai and the city residents came out to help the thousands of farmers, who walked for six days to reach here from Nashik to raise their various demands, by providing them food and water.

The farmers walked upto the Azad Maidan in South Mumbai early this morning as a part of their 'long march' for raising demands, including implementation of the Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme.

Subhash Talekar, the spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, "We thought about helping the farmers with food as they are our food-providers and have come from remote parts of the state."

"We asked our men working between Dadar (in Central Mumbai) and Colaba (South Mumnbai) to collect food and deliver it to our farmer brothers at the Azad Maidan," he said.

Dabbawalas, the tiffin-carriers known for their efficient delivery service, provided food to the protesters as a part of their 'roti-bank' initiative.

6. Security beefed up around Azad Maidan: Security has been tightened around Azad Maidan in Maharashtra State Assembly before farmers set to protest there, according to media reports. As earlier mentioned by Mumbai Police, the traffic is normalised but Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar added that police force has been increased around the vicinity as well as all over the city to avoid traffic chaos for students appearing for SSC examination. 

7. AAP steps up in support of protesters: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) extended support to the ongoing protest. The party voiced its concern of the farmers as well as urged Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to meet all the demands of the agitators.

.@AAPMaharashtra stands in support of #KisanLongMarch by thousands of farmers who are marching towards Mumbai with their demands.

Maharashtra unit of AAP also urged CM @Dev_Fadnavis to meet all the demands of the farmers.

— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) March 11, 2018

8. Food distributed among farmers halted at Azad Maidan; several suffering from dehydration:  According to media reports, food is being distributed among farmers camped at Azad Maidan before they embark on to their march towards State Assembly later in the day. 

Several farmers in the process are reportedly dehydrated after marching for more than 30 km on Sunday in Mumbai. There is also medical dispensary set up at Azad Maidan. Doctors who spoke to CNN-News18, said farmers were suffering from blood pressure and diarrhea. 

9. No roads closure or diversion yet: Speakinng to ANI, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar, said that no road closure or diversions has been implemented due to the ongoing farmer's protest.

Contrary to the worries of the people of a possible traffic chaos, the Mumbai Police also tweeted that the traffic movements will remain normal just "like any other day" during the long march.

Today, Traffic mvmt will be normal like any other day. Tr R no diversions proposed on any road in limits of Mumbai 4 the proposed ‘Long March’. We will be posting updates as and when required. Don’t believe in rumours. Contact @MumbaiPolice & Dial 100 for any such verification.

— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) March 11, 2018

10. Fadnavis forms six-member committee to look into demands: Maharasthra CM Devendra Fadnavis has formed a six-member committee to look into the demands of the agitated farmers as they plan to march to the Vidhan Sabha later today. 

The decision was taken during a meeting held at Fadnavis' residence, informed a Chief Ministers Officers source.

The committee will comprise of Maharashtra Minister Chandrakant Patil, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan, Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara, state cooperatives minister Subhash Deshmukh and Shiv Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde.


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