Once again, simmering agrarian distress in Maharashtra is being blacked out by the mainstream media. Away from media glare, tens of thousands of farmers under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) have undertaken a protest march to denounce the BJP-led state government and stress on a complete loan waiver among other demands.
The farmers set out on a “Long March” from CBS Chowk at Nashik on March 6. After covering a distance of nearly 200 km, the protest rally is scheduled to reach Mumbai on March 12. “In the capital city, the peasants will indefinitely gherao the state assembly which is in session until their demands are met,” said a press statement issued by AIKS.
The protesting farmers have also been opposing acquisition of peasants’ lands in the name of elitist projects like the bullet train and super highways.
“The Long March has been organised to denounce the BJP state government for betraying all its assurances given to the peasantry during the last two years on issues like farm loan waiver, remunerative prices, recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA),” the statement read.
Other prominent demands of the protesting farmers, according to the statement, include complete change in the river-linking scheme proposed to be started in Nashik, Thane and Palghar districts, so as to ensure that tribal villages are not submerged and water is made available to these districts and to other drought-prone districts in the state; temple lands and pasture lands to be vested in the names of the tillers; increase in pension schemes to poor peasants and agricultural workers; compensation for great losses sustained by peasants due to pest attacks and hailstorms; and burning issues connected to the public distribution system.
The farmers have also been demanding implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
AIKS Secretary Raju Desle, while addressing the farmers, claimed that as many as 1,753 farmers have killed themselves since June last when the BJP-led state government announced a conditional farm loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore.
AIKS national president Ashok Dhawle said the BJP government had betrayed the farmers by not honouring the assurances given to them.
With PTI inputs.