30000 protesting farmers reach Mumbai, plan to gherao Vidhan Sabha tomorrow

The massive Long March of the Maharashtra unit of the All India Kisan Sabha. Express

The protesting farmers are reportedly members of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

Apart from a complete loan waiver, the farmers are demanding that their electricity bills be waived, proper minimum support price for their produce is fixed, the rights of Tribal cultivators over forest land is recognised by implementing the Forest Rights Act.

According to the ABKS, 25,000 farmers are already part of the protest, while thousands more are expected to join on the way to Mumbai. The march commenced on March 5 from the CBS Chowk in Central Nashik.

Aware of farmers' anger, the government in its budget presented on 9 March took a clear farm sector focus.

Water Resources, Irrigation minister Girish Mahajan who met a delegation of farmers on Sunday afternoon as the chief minister's representative, expressed confidence that the march will conclude peacefully on Monday and with the resolution of the farmers' grievances. He added they were all here to present their charter of demands to the government. "I am confident that the farmers can expect a positive outcome at tomorrow's meeting".

President of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Ashok Dhavale was quoted in media reports as saying: "Farmers have been betrayed by the BJP-led government".

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Tarabai Chaudhari, a 50-year-old farmer from Vani village in the Dindori taluka of the Nashik district, said: "We have been raising this demand for years, but nobody pays any heed to us". The huge crowd that has camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground, will start to move towards Azad Maidan, a large ground designated for protests in South Mumbai, around midnight.

"Farmers marching into Mumbai". The farmers also want pension from the State Government.

If loan waiver is provided to all the farmers without any guidelines then the burden on the State exchequer will increase to ₹35,000 crore.

The massive march has also drawn support from BJP ally Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, its organisers said. "We are prepared to work with the farmers shoulder to shoulder to achieve their demands", Aditya said. From there, they will proceed to the state assembly, another 2 km away, on Monday.

The agitating farmers' perseverance could be gauged from the fact that they have been walking since Tuesday last when they left Nashik in north Maharashtra, braving the scorching Sun and the intense humidity.

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