Farmers see potential in the soil, that for most of us is mere dirt. And yet, this sector of cultivators and agricultural laborers comprising 263 million Indians ( Census 2011) has been suffering due to problems related to crop failure, unfair pay, debt burdens inter-alia.
The roads of Maharashtra witnessed the pain of the agrarian sector of India, when desolate farmers, led by the All India Kisan Sabha(AIKS), affiliated to the CPI(M) trodden on them, in their 180 km and 6 days ‘Long March’ protest from Nashik to Mumbai. The Objective was to attain fair pay fixed as per Swaminathan Commission(2006) recommendations, and loan and electricity bill waivers, from the government. The 50,000-strong convoy reached their destination, Mumbai on Sunday, the 11th of March, 2018.
WHY THE FARMERS’ LONG MARCH IN MAHARASHTRA IS A VICTORY OF HUMANITY?
• The AIKS President Mr. Ashok Dhawale declared that the farmers will “march at midnight from Sion to Azad Maidan” in order to “avoid inconvenience to the students attending board exams” due to traffic blockage. The journey from Somaiya ground to Azad Maidan was made between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
• The Dabbawalas came forth and provided food to the protestors as a part of their ‘Roti Bank’ initiative. Subhash Talekar, the spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association, explained this remarkable display of humanity saying that they wanted to help these “food providers” of the society coming from remote areas.
• As the farmers marched into Thane on Saturday night, the residents were seen showering warmth on them. The localities flocked to the streets offering food items, water and footwear to the protesters.
• The Thane Matadata Jagran Manch provided the convoy with nearly 500 Kgs of food grains as it camped at the BMC Octrol ground for the night.
• The support extended to the farmers by NCP President Sharad Pawar, State Congress President Ashok Chavan, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and MNS Chief Raj Thackeray. This common reaction from the different leaders coming forth in support acted as a source of pressure on the Government for immediate action.
• The Maharashtra Government showed an active response to the demands of the farmers. A meeting between the leaders of the protest and all political parties was held in Vidhan Bhawan on Monday afternoon. Girish Mahajan, Maharashtra Water Resources Minister, told the media that the farmers had around 12-13 demands, most of which had been welcomed and accepted by the Devendra Fadnavis government and shall be implemented in a time-bound manner.
Among other things, the BJP-led government agreed upon setting up a committee to hand over forest land used for farming to farmers and tribals. The Government thanked the farmers for keeping the humanitarian considerations in mind throughout and for holding a peaceful march. It also arranged for a train to take the farmers back to their homes.
• Residents of Mulund showered flowers as the farmers were leaving the premises of Thane. The AIKS State Secretary, Ajit Navale said they were “humbled” by the love and encouragement bestowed and thanked the people for their constant support.
NEED OF THE HOUR
It is essential that governments ensure the immediate fulfillment of the genuine demands of farmers across the nation, for, when a farmer gives up his life, be rest assured we are one step closer to doom.
A TWO-FOLD SUCCESS
In the midst of the disturbing statistics with regard to farmers’ demand articulation and the responses to them, The Long March of Maharashtra has become a symbol of coordination, maturity and the values of humanity. It is a two-fold success, first, of the farmers and secondly, of Humanity!