Tired of being on the sidelines of the discussion during every Parliament session, over 35,000 neglected and angry farmers marched for almost 180 kilometers from the city of Nashik to Mumbai to make themselves heard at last.
The Kisan Long March, organised by the Communist Party of India – Marxist’s farmers body All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has met the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis to voice their demands.
What Are Their Demands?
Experts have predicted that this movement has been fueled by the BJP’s betrayal to the peasantry sector which involves a lot of failed schemes and unfulfilled promises that would have made these farmers’ lives better had they been acted upon.
The current government announced farm loan waivers of over Rs 34,000 crore but have only released just around Rs 13,000 crore. Therefore a true loan waiver, one that actually benefits the majority of farmers needs to come up.
The farmers have also demanded better rates for crops that aren’t just minimum support prices that exist on paper since the farmers allege that they haven’t got true and fair prices for their crops since 2014, when Fadnavis came to power.
They are also asking for the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report to reimburse farmers for their cost of production plus another 50 per cent. The protestors also want the Forest Rights Act to be implemented since most of the farmers include Adivasis who want better, assured land rights.
Demands like farmers and farm labourers being given a pension if they are above 60 years, ration cards and supply of kerosene are also there which are quite easy to fulfill but the blatant corruption and apathy towards the farmers agenda has deterred the government from providing for them.
Who All Have Stepped Up
Political parties including AAP and Congress have voiced strong displeasure about BJP’s failed initiatives and failed implementation. The Shiv Sena also announced that they are not going to let the state Assembly function on Monday until the farmers’ demands are met.
This tiring, arduous journey however didn’t stop the farmers from being absolutely united in their cause. Blistering, swollen feet, low energy levels and dampened spirits were quickly revived when the folk dancers and musicians accompanying the farmers, danced along to the tunes of the local instruments.
Middle Class homeowners most prominently the Sikh Community of Mumbai, were seen distributing food to the farmers participating in the march. A medical dispensary was also set up for the farmers who were seen suffering from high blood pressure or fever.
Fadnavis was responding to a discussion in the Assembly, and has said that the demands of protestors were very important, and that the government was sensitive and positive towards them.
Seeing the gravity of the crisis, Fadnavis has sought to form a six-member committee to look into the demands. The committee will comprise of Maharashtra Minister Chandrakant Patil, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan and others.
After careful deliberations, Fadnavis and Co. announced that they have accepted most of the demands and as of now, the agitation has been called off.
It was breathtaking to see how Kisan Long March has everything it takes to shake the financial capital of the country. The sea of red, has shown that when 35,000 farmers come knocking down at your doors, the farmer crisis is anything but not real.
It was pressing, and it needed attention soon.
To ignore it, or to discredit this peaceful yet powerful movement as something trivial or as an attention gimmick by the opposition would have only meant to endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
It is high time that the government steps up and acknowledge what needs to be done for not just those who till the lands, but also for those who stay alive from what comes from these lands too.
Image Credits: Google Images