Farmers’ protest in Nashik: More than 50,000 small, marginal and landless farmers and tribals from 23 districts across Maharashtra embarked on a 180-km march from Nashik to Mumbai to protest against the Devendra Fadnavis government’s apathy to the distress in the farm sector. Thousands of farmers gathered in Maharashtra’s Nashik to stage a 7-day long protest march outside the state legislature in Mumbai over unfulfilled demands on the occasion of the fourth death anniversary of Communist ideologue Govind Pansare. The farmers alleged the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra hasn’t taken any step to fulfil their demands since the first “long march” in 2018.

Under the guidance of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, which is affiliated to the CPI(M), around 40,000 farmers had staged a long march outside Maharashtra Legislature in March 2018 as a mark of protest against the state government’s apathy to the distress in the farm sector. This year, the number of protesting farmers is growing.

Farmers protest to begin in the Nashik region of Maharashtra today. This will be the second massive farmers’ rally in Maharashtra since March 2018. Tribals, landless agriculturalists and small farmers have gathered from places like Peint, Trimbakeshwar, Kalwan, Palghar and other areas in Nashik for this 7-day long protest.

Protesters have gathered at the inter-city Mahamarg bus stand which is about 8 to 15 km away from Nashik. According to a police spokesperson, the farmers’ vehicles were loaded with food stock for the next seven days comprising rice, flour, oil, salt. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said that the protest would set off once farmers’ unions from Thane and Palghar districts also reached the protest venue. It also accused the police of causing a delay in the contingent’s arrival as it was stopped by them. Starting February 21, the protesters will hit the end check-post on February 27 which is the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. Currently, the state legislature which has been extended till March 2 is in progress.

Jiva Pandu Gavit, a CPI (M) MLA from Kalwan while discussing the 7-day protest said that the protest aims to seek answers from the state government on why it failed to fulfil what it promised last year, reported The Indian Express. The farmers are ready for talks, but to no avail, as the government has always betrayed them, said Ajit Navale, AIKS general secretary. While the government.

On the demand-front, the AIKS is seeking a complete waiver of farm loans, implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations. In its charter of 15 demands the farmer union has asked for Rs 40,000 per acre relief for farmers, MSP (minimum support price) at one-and-a-half times the full cost of production, a pro-farmer crop insurance scheme, increased pension as well as ration, food security. The protesters also want government’s nod in granting land acquired by temples to farmers.

Last year in March, the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha with the support of 40,000 farmers staged a protest outside the state legislature from Nashik against government’s response to the distress in the farm sector. In response, the government had given written assurance to the distressed farmers that their demands will be fulfilled. As far as Thursday’s protest is concerned, the government has asked farmers to call it off as it suggested discussions over protest to address their concerns. The government reiterated that most of the demands put forward last year have been fulfilled and if there was anything which the government has not fulfilled then it was ready to discuss, therefore the protesters should not resort to march.

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