Thousands of farmers from Maharashtra ended their agitation on Thursday evening after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave a written assurance that most of their demands would be met within three months.
The agitators — comprising farmers as well as members of the tribal community — had reached Mumbai’s Azad Maidan that afternoon, two days after launching their protest march from Thane. They were seeking loan waivers, drought-related assistance and an enhanced minimum support price for crops, among other measures. This mass protest, held under the Lok Sangharsh Morcha (LSM) banner and supported by political parties such as the Janata Dal (Secular), Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiv Sena, was the third to be taken out in Maharashtra over the last eight months.
Here are the 10 latest developments in the story:
- The farmers, who launched their march from Thane on Tuesday, reached Azad Maidan this afternoon. The LSM leadership has said they will not leave the venue until all their demands are met.
- The protesters want the government to provide farm loan waivers; compensate for drought-hit lands; enhance the minimum support price for crops; transfer forest rights to tribals, and implement the Swaminathan Committee recommendations.
- The protesters have demanded drought compensation of Rs. 50,000 per acre for non-irrigated land and Rs. 1 lakh per acre for irrigated land. They also want the loan waiver to be “complete, and without any conditions”.
- The tribals, on the other hand, want the government to implement the Forest Rights Act effectively to ensure justice for the community. Besides the transfer of disputed forest land, they demand jobs for their youth.
- The protesters were accompanied by a number of social activists, including Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and Magsaysay Award-winner Rajendra Singh. Mr. Singh has blamed the government for the recent “man-made” droughts.
- Even as the farmers marched towards Azad Maidan this morning, the Mumbai police advised commuters to avoid JJ Flyover, Lalbagh Flyover, and Parel Flyover until 10 am. Traffic snarls were witnessed in the vicinity of Azad Maidan too, although farmer leaders said they will cause only “minimum inconvenience” to residents.
- State Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan had met the protesters on Wednesday evening to schedule a meeting with the Chief Minister this evening. LSM leaders will plan their future course of action after meeting Mr. Fadnavis.
- In the backdrop of the protest, Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh denied claims that demonetization had harmed India’s agriculture sector. He said while that initiative was taken in November 2016, this was about more recent concerns.
- This is the third time farmers have organized a mass protest in Maharashtra over a span of one year. While around 25,000 agriculturists took out a rally to demand loan waivers in March, hundreds of dairy farmers hit the streets to seek a hike in milk prices four months ago.
- Punjab and Karnataka are also witnessing similar farmer agitations. Over 70 passenger trains were either canceled or diverted near Dasuya, 87 km from Amritsar, after protesters blocked railway tracks on November 18.