New Delhi: Maharashtra farmers called off their protest after reaching an agreement with the state government on Thursday. There was a meeting between farmer leaders and state minister Girish Mahajan. News agency ANI reported that state government has sought 2-3 months to fulfil demands. The farmers were demanding complete farm loan waiver and implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations among others.
Earlier in the day, thousands of farmers in Nashik continued to march to state legislative assembly in Mumbai. The march was held for demands which include complete loan waiver for farmers and implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations among others. The eight-day march was supposed to end in Mumbai on February 27, coinciding with the budget session of the Legislature.
Farmers had started marching on Wednesday to protest against what they termed as the “betrayal” of the peasantry by the BJP governments at the state and centre. February 20 was the fourth death anniversary of Communist ideologue and writer Govind Pansare and February 27 will mark the 88th anniversary of the martyrdom of revolutionary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad.
The decision for the march was taken at the February 13 farmers’ convention in Ahmednagar. The organisers have warned against any attempts to crush their peaceful march.
AIKS President Ashok Dhawale on Thursday vowed that the march will continue until “the government gives written assurances on its demands” and that this time the turnout of farmers was around 50,000 – much higher than last year.
He claimed that the state government was putting obstacles in the march and resorting to “repression” through the police against the peaceful procession.
The farmers’ demands include immediate relief in view of the severe drought situation in the state, issues related to irrigation, land rights, full loan waiver, minimum support prices at one-and-a-half times the total production cost, a pro-farmer crop insurance scheme, enhanced pension for elderly farmers as well as food and health security.
A similar protest was held last year in March by around 35,000 farmers including women, children and the elderly. After a gruelling march, the Maharashtra government had accepted a majority of their demands after which the farmers’ agitation, which secured the support of all the parties, was called off.