Farmers call off protest after govt promises

MUMBAI: Thousands of farmers who gathered in the country’s financial hub Mumbai to protest against their treatment by the government, called off their protest on Monday, saying they had received written assurances from local officials.
More than 35,000 farmers walked 180 kilometres over four days from Nashik district in Maharashtra to the state capital Mumbai as part of the protest.
They want their debts to state-run banks to be written off, a government-supported minimum price for crops and ownership rights to forest land they have tilled for decades, among other demands.
Parts of Maharashtra have faced severe drought and a water crisis for years followed by unseasonal rains that destroyed crops. More than 2,400 farmers committed suicide in 2017, according to media reports citing official figures.
“We have won a major victory with a written assurance from the government on major issues.
This was signed by the chief
secretary (in the state government) and tabled in the state assembly,” Ashok Dhawale, president of the farmers’ federation, the All India Kisan Sabha, said.
“We have made some definite progress, especially on land titles, prices and pensions … there has been a forward movement,” Dhawale said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said discussions with the farmers’ leaders were positive and immediate steps were being taken on several of their demands.
Maharashtra’s state government is run by the Bharatiya Janata Party, that also runs the federal government.
The demonstration was coordinated by the organisation which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM).
Mumbai’s Azad Maidan grounds, where the farmers gathered at midnight to avoid disrupting the city’s busy morning traffic, was a sea of red flags on Monday.
There were women and children among the marchers many of whom could be seen nursing sore feet after the long march.
Groups of farmers could be seen beating drums and dancing at the Azad Maidan grounds as the news came in.
The government was arranging two special trains to take the farmers back to Nashik, NDTV news channel reported.
Farmers can uproot governments, warns Yechury: Warning the ruling BJP, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that farmers can “uproot governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra” if they failed to concede their just demands.
Reaching Mumbai to address the rally of farmers’ after their 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.
Pawar, Hazare flay BJP: Former union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and social crusader Anna Hazare strongly criticised the 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 if the government was serious about accepting their demands.
— dpa/IANS