Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai Starts Tomorrow

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

More than one lakh farmers in Maharashtra will begin their long march from Nashik to Mumbai tomorrow (20th February) as talks between the state government officials and farmer leaders remained inconclusive on Sunday (17th February).

The farmers would cover almost 165 kilometres in eight days and reach Mumbai on 27th February. They are asking the Maharashtra government to honour and fulfill the commitments given to them during their protest rally in March 2018 and also take steps to alleviate farmers’ distress after a severe drought that engrossed half the State.

It must be noted that last year’s Long March began with around 25,000 landless and tribal farmers and concluded in Mumbai with 50,000 cultivators was a turning point in farm movements in India. The pictures of farmers walking barefoot, some of them with bleeding feet, into the Mumbai city in the middle of night, flashed on all TV channels left a lasting impression on locals.

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmer body, which is backed by CPI (Marxist), said that this year more farmers are expected to join the rally against the government.

AIKS statement mentioned that a farmer’s convention was organised on 13th February in Ahmednagar and it had submitted a memorandum to the district collector. It said further stated that instead of taking any action on the memo, police started registering cases against state AIKS leaders including Ajit Nawale, the state secretary. 

long march

However, several meetings held between the government officials and farmer leaders, including the latest on 17th February, failed to yield any result.

The AIKS leaders told clearly they would move ahead with the protest rally. Ashok Dhawale, AIKS president said, “Although Maharashtra has announced a loan waiver package worth 34,000 crore in 2017, government announced that it was not able to distribute only 17,000 crore until now. We want the government to take the immediate steps to fulfill the commitment made to the farmers”.

Similarly, it had promised to provide land titles to the landless farmers and execute the Forest Rights Act.  But excluding Surguna tehsil in Nashik, pattas are not given anywhere. Government gave it in Surguna as after pressure from MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit.

AIKS has been asking the government to give land belonging to various temples in Maharashtra to the farmers who have been plowing these tracts of land. He said “There are around 6 lakh hectares of land under temple trusts that are cultivated by the landless farmers. Hence these farmers have a natural right over the land”.

Dhawale further said “In the same way, government had promised to increase the pension for elderly farmers from Rs 600 / month, but it increased it to Rs. 900 / month, instead of 3,000 / month as demanded by the farmers.

The farmers have also asked the government to introduce a farmer-friendly crop insurance scheme, better payment for crops, short-term & long-term measures to help growers to drought-proof their farms. He said, “As immediate actions, government must provide drinking water, increase the number of jobs available under MNREGA and waive school and college students fees”.

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