Mumbai farmers protest updates: Central Railways to run 2 special trains as protesters decide to head home

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Mumbai farmers protest updates: Central Railways to run 2 special trains as protesters decide to head home
  • 18:08 (IST)

    Central Railways to run 2 trains to send back agitating farmers

    Central Railway will run two special trains from Mumbai's CSMT to Bhusawal at 8.50 pm and 10.00 pm on Mondya to send the agitating farmers back, ANI reported. 

  • 17:13 (IST)

    Why farmers' demands are no longer about loan waiver?

    An outstanding majority of those who marched to Mumbai constituted of tribal people which brought to the fore a different edge to the agrarian crisis faced by rural Maharashtra. The agitation was less about farm loan waivers and more about drawing government attention to policy loopholes that have failed to help impoverished farmers of the state. 

    Many of the participants in the protests were either tribals, demanding implementation of Forest Land Rights Act 2006, or land tillers (not owners) who have no institutional credit to their name but suffer excruciatingly in case of a failed crop. Their demands included basic things such as new and renewed ration cards so that they can access the Public Distribution System, or imploring the government to fix data/ technical errors in the database of beneficiaries for government schemes such as Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojna and Shravan Bal Yojna. 

  • 17:03 (IST)

    Farmers satisfied with our decisions: Maharashtra Minister Girish Mahajan

  • 17:00 (IST)

    Govt arranges special trains to send back protesters to their home towns: CNN-News18

  • 16:37 (IST)

    Govt assures to fix ration card related discrepancies in 6 months

    Ration cards in tribal areas have not been renewed or issued since years, therefore one of the demands of the protesters was to fix these concerns. The governmenr has reassured the farmers that new BPL ration cards will be issued within 6 months. 

  • Devendra Fadnavis assures farmers, tribals of assistance,says land issues will be solved in time-bound manner

    Chief Minister Devendr Fadnavis took cognisance of the tribal people's demands for forest land rights, saying his government takes their concerns seriously. He assured the leaders that the government would try to resolve forest land related issues within six months. It also promised to form a special team headed by the chief secretary to look into the reverification of disputed or controversial land titles in tribal areas. 

  • 16:27 (IST)

    Farmers call off stir after written assurance from CM

  • Read the full report here  ">

    16:06 (IST)

    Firstpost reports show Maharashtra govt failed to make farm loan waiver benefits 'pilferage free'

    Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis drafted an ambitious plan to make the Rs 34,000 core farm loan waiver pilferage-proof by linking disbursal to Aadhaar numbers. However, Firstpost investigation shows how banks turned in such corrupted list of beneficiaries and their Aadhaar numbers that the entire disbursal mechanism collapsed. This caused needless delay in disbursals and put enormous pressure on the government to speed up the process, which they did by abandoning the Aadhaar-linkage. 

    The BJP-led government in Maharashtra announced its historic farm loan waiver scheme — titled the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana — on 22 June, 2017. The scheme was originally intended to benefit 89 lakh farmers. Chief Minister Fadnavis had estimated that the burden on the state exchequer on account of the scheme would be Rs 34,022 crore.

    However, the scheme has been hobbled by technical glitches, mismatches in data and tussles in the bureaucracy.

    Read the full report here 

  • 15:54 (IST)

    FirstCut By Manjul Toons

  • 15:41 (IST)

    Govt passed off benefits of loan waiver schemes to 35.68 lakh farmers out of a total 89 lakh eligible farmers

    One of the major demands being raised by the protesting farmers is to hasten up the already delayed roll-out of last years' farm loan package. According to a report in Livemint, as of 6 March, the state government has passed on Rs 13,782 crore as loan waivers to 35.68 lakh farmers out of a total 89 lakh farmers expected to benefit from the scheme.

  • 15:35 (IST)

    Govt reached out to protesters from start, tried dissuading from march: Fadnavis on criticism over forcing farmers to take long march

    Reacting to criticism for 'making' farmers come this far to talk to the government and not meeting them half-way, Fadnavis said his government was in touch with the march organisers since 6 March.

    "When this protest march was about to begin, Girish Mahajan from the government side spoke to the farmers and tried to dissuade them from starting the protest march. The government tried to start a dialogue with the farmers but they were adamant to start a protest march," Fadnavis told the Assembly. 

    "But they were adamant on the march. We tried to talk to them. All help was provided, like traffic management and deployment of medical vans," he said.

    Opposition leaders Vikhe Patil had said, "Why couldn't the government talk to them before the march began from Nashik on March 6. Such hardships for tribals and farmers could have been avoided."

    The chief minister had faced backlash on this accord on social media as well. 

  • Read the full article here ">

    15:24 (IST)

    Devendra Fadnavis knew he was walking into political trap, there isn't easy escape now

    If you look at the farm loan waiver issue in Maharashtra, one should be actually sympathetic to its 47-year-old Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He never wanted to do it in the first place and thought of better solutions to save farmers. 

    But subsequently, as the calls for loan waiver strengthened, agitations began not just in Maharashtra but in other agrarian states, Fadnavis failed to walk his talk and the chief minister failed to walk his talk as he was forced to follow the Yogi-way by announcing a Rs 30,000 crore loan waiver for Maharashtra farmers in June 2017. 

    Right now, the CM is facing a Catch-22 situation. There is a massive farmer protest at a stone’s throw distance away from his office demanding a complete waiver of farm loans and electricity bills. If he agrees to that, the state will have to find the means to deliver. The exchequer is already on a weak ground after an additional Rs 20,000 crore borrowing to fulfill part of the Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver already announced post Yogi's announcement. Also, Fadnavis is running the risk of a situation wherein he may have to go for similar waivers in future as well whenever rains fail. 

    Read the full article here

  • 15:18 (IST)

    Mumbaikars on streets to help protesting farmers, offer food, flowers footwear 

    As politics over the political inclination of those protesting goes on, Mumbaikars have come out in support of the poor farmers who took a long march to reach Mumbai. City residents were seen offering 'Vada-pav' (a popular street snack), other food items and water to farmers last night. A Mumbai resident also posted on social media a picture of food and water being distributed to farmers. Reports also came that several people offered more comfortable footwear to those walking for miles in their chappals. 

  • 15:11 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi asks Fadnavis, Modi to shed ego and accept farmers' just demands

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to shed their egos and accept the "just demands" of the thousands of farmers and tribals protesting in Mumbai. 

    The Congress, he added, stands with the farmers and tribals marching to protest against the apathy of the central and state governments.
    "I appeal to PM Modi and the CM to not stand on ego and to accept their just demands," Gandhi tweeted.

  • 15:07 (IST)

    Meeting between Maharashtra Farmers and all-party delegation begins

    According to ANI, a meeting between an all-party delegation and the farmers' leaders has started at the Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai. The meeting is being chaired by chief minister Devendra fadnavis. 

  • 14:57 (IST)

    Devendra Fadnavis says 80% protesters are tribals, seeking land rights not loan waivers

    Speaking in the Maharashtra Assembly over the farmers' protest, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that a substantial number of those participating in the protests are landless tribals, whose main concern is forest rights and land rights. 

    "Around 90 to 95 percent of the participants are poor tribals. They are fighting for forest land rights. They are landless and can't do farming. The government is sensitive and positive towards their demands."

    The chief minister also announced forming a six-member ministerial committee to look into the protester's demands.

    The committee will comprise of Maharashtra Minister Chandrakant Patil, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan, Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara, state cooperatives minister Subhash Deshmukh and Shiv Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde. 

  • 14:42 (IST)

    Maharashtra protest just the beginning, mega protest in New Delhi in April

    Leaders of farmer associations across the country are planning to hold protests similar to those by Maharashtra farmers, culminating in a mega rally in April, reported News18“The government’s anti-farmer stand needs to be challenged. We will hold a rally for the same in Guwahati very soon. State farmer heads are in close collaboration and we are planning to hold a big protest in New Delhi sometime in April. Farmers from all over India will be present in that rally. ," said Akhil Gogoi, a Northeast-based farmer rights leader. 

    Farmers from Gujarat and Tamil Nadu also confirmed to News18 their plan to hold a mega rally in New Delhi.

  • 14:36 (IST)

    The politics behind the Maharashtra farmers' march

    As of now, all opposition parties have thrown their weight behind the CPM-led All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and extended their support to the farmers' march, which reached Mumbai's Azad Maidan on Monday morning. 

    This can actually be detrimental for the Narendra Modi-led Centre and BJP government in Maharashtra, notes this Economic Times article. One of the reasons is that the issue is not manufactured out of thin air. The problem actually persists. Secondly, the report notes, it can instantly mobilise thousands into protests. 

    The third factor is that it will generate a wave of sympathy from those in urban areas. A quick scan through one's Twitter feeds is enough to note that. Moreover, this agriculture crisis and the protests that follow thereafter could be a major challenge for BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in agriculturally-dependednt Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. 

  • 14:29 (IST)

    Dabbawalas of Mumbai deliver food to protesters at Azad Maidan

    The famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai and city residents came together on Monday to provide food for farmers and protesters who reached Azad Maidan on Monday. 

    Providing them food and water, dabbawalas between Dadar and Colabad collected food and water to deliver it to protesters as part of their 'roti bank' initiative, reported News18. Subhash Talekar, the spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, "We thought about helping the farmers with food as they are our food-providers and have come from remote parts of the state. We asked our men working between Dadar (in Central Mumbai) and Colaba (South Mumnbai) to collect food and deliver it to our farmer brothers at the Azad Maidan." 

    According to Talekar, the Mumbai roti-bank, of which the dabbawalas are an integral part, deploys GPS-tracked vans to collect excess food from eateries, hotels, public functions, and households, so that it can be distributed to the poor and hungry people.

  • 14:10 (IST)

    Farmers need to be heard, says Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray

    Thackeray said that when he spoke to them, he did not see red flags but red blood. "Whichever the flag they carry, whoever their political hero, government has to hear them."

    "They are farmers who need to be heard. It’s unfortunate to be insensitive to those who feed us and put ideological cages on them. I’m proud of my fellow Shiv Sainiks who are with them nursing their wounds, and voicing the farmers in the Assembly too, only seeing their need.," he tweeted. 

  • 13:55 (IST)

    Visual of a woman protester at Azad Maidan in Mumbai

    Image courtesy: Sachin Gokhale/ Firstpost

  • 13:54 (IST)

    Since Day 1 of morcha, tried to discuss issues with farmers, says Fadnavis

    According to ANI, Fadnavis said that the government has been positive in fulfilling demands. "Since the first day of the morcha, we tried to discuss various issues with them (farmers). Girish Mahajan was in touch with them from day one. But they were firm on taking out the march," he said. 

  • 13:49 (IST)

    Mammoth farmers' march example of people's power: Rahul Gandhi

  • 13:46 (IST)

    'Govt sensitive to farmers' needs': BJP leader Ram Kadam

    Speaking to CNN-News18, BJP leader Ram Kadam said that the government is sensitive to the peasants' demands. "The government is sensitive to farmers' need. We will listen to their problem and resolve it," he said.  

  • 13:26 (IST)

    Congress MP Nana Patole addresses morcha at Azad Maidan

    Image courtesy: Sachin Gokhale/ Firstpost

  • 13:23 (IST)

    Visual of farmer delegation at Vidhan Bhavan

    Image courtesy: Sanjay Sawant

  • 13:20 (IST)

    Farmer brings along solar panel to charge phones

    48-year-old protester from Ganeshgaon in Tryambak Taluka, Nathu Nivrutti Udar has a solar panel mounted on his head, to charge mobile phones, reported News18. Father of two children, he said, "I got this panel for my house but when we decided to come here, I thought I should install this on my head, so that I can charge the panels and use it to charge farmers' phones." 

    Image courtesy: News18

  • 13:15 (IST)

    Here's a look at how agrarian protests across the country have increased over the years

  • 13:15 (IST)

    'No question of compromise, will go back only when demands are fulfilled': Ajit Navale, Kisan leader

    According to the Hindustan Times, AIKS general secretary Ajit Nawale said that there is no question of compromise. "This is not a political issue. The government must respect farmers. We have marched more than 100 kilometres and will go back only when all our demands are fulfilled.”

  • 13:04 (IST)

    State govt sensitive to farmers' issues: Fadnavis tells Maharashtra Assembly

    Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Assembly that the state government was quite sensitive and positive towards the issues raised by thousands of farmers and tribals.

    Fadnavis, who will shortly meet the representatives of farmers and tribals, assured the state assembly that the government was committed to resolving issues raised by farmers and tribals.

  • 13:02 (IST)

    AIKS farmers' delegation reaches Maharashtra Assembly 

    The farmers' delegation led by All India Kisan Sabha leaders reached the Maharashtra Assembly at 1 pm. They will be meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss their demands and later take a call on if the protesters gathered at Azad Maidan should march to Vidhan Bhavan. 

  • 12:45 (IST)

    BJP stokes controversy, Poonam Mahajan says protests fulled by 'urban maoists'

    Speaking to CNN-News18 outside the Parliament, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan said that the farmers' protest is fuelled by 'urban maoism'. "They (farmers) are holding the flag of Communists, and urban maoists are misguiding them," she said. 

    "If you have seen this march, a big and peaceful march, with farmers holding a communist flag and they've all come from northern Maharashtra. With respect to all this, what do all these farmers want? They have accepted the loan waiver has happened. When the chief minister sits with the farmer leaders, they'll sort out the issues," Mahajan said earlier. 

  • 12:40 (IST)

    Here's a look at India's agricultural debt

  • 12:30 (IST)

    'Tired, our legs swollen, but we will complete the walk,' say farmers before reaching Azad Maidan'

    Exhausted from walking from for nearly a week over 180 kilometres, farmers on Monday remained tireless in their efforts to achieve what they came for. Speaking to Hindustan Timesa farmer from Beed, Parshuram Gaikwad said, "We will not move from the state legislature building until our demands are met. There is no way anyone will back out after reaching so close to the destination. Yes, we are tired and our legs have swollen, but we will complete the walk.”

  • 12:23 (IST)

    AIKS takes a dig at Narendra Modi, says farmers are marching for 'acche din' 

  • 12:19 (IST)

    RECAP: Visual of farmers marching towards Azad Maidan at JJ Flyover at 5 am

  • 12:13 (IST)

    Govt trying to discredit protest, say Kisan Sabha leaders

    Responding to Fadnavis' claim that 95 percent of the protesters are tribals and thus, not farmers technically, All India Kisan Sabha leaders said that it was an attempt on the part of the government to discredit the protests, reported CNN-News18. 

  • 12:07 (IST)

    Visual of farmers resting at Azad Maidan

    Following a nearly six-day walk from Nashik, with blistered feet in the scorching sun, farmers have gathered at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. The farmers' delegation led by AIKS will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at 2 pm. 

    Image courtesy: Sachin Gokhale

  • 11:57 (IST)

    Farmers in march from Raigad, Marathwada, Vidarbha districts

    Farmers participating in the march hail from Marathwada, Raigad, Vidarbha and other districts. The protests also include both men and women from tribal-dominated talukas in Nashik, Thane and Palghar. 

  • 11:51 (IST)

    In five years to 2015-16, real farm income per cultivator increased by 0.44% each year

    As per an IndiaSpend report published in July 2017, the inflation-adjusted farm income per cultivator increased by only 0.44 percent a year in the five years leading up to 2015-16. The article, quoting a NITI Aayog report, said that since 1993-94, it rose 108.5 percent to Rs 44,207 in 2015-16. 

  • 11:46 (IST)

    'State positive about farmers' demands': Devendra Fadnavis

    Speaking in the Vidhan Bhavan, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state is positive towards the farmers' demands. "The state is positive about demands of farmers. 95 percent of the protesters are tribals, so technically they are not farmers," he said. 

  • 11:42 (IST)

    WATCH: Farmers and protesters marching towards Azad Maidan at Kings Circle at 2 am on Monday

    Video courtesy: Sanjay Sawant

  • 11:39 (IST)

    NCP state chief Sunil Tatkare, Dhananjay Munde visit farmers at Azad Maidan

    NCP state president Sunit Tatkare and Dhananjay Munde visited the Kisan Sabha farmers gathered at Azad Maidan on Monday. Earlier in the morning, PWP MLC Jayant Patil also visited morcha. 

    Input from Sanjay Sawant

  • 11:34 (IST)

    Devendra Fadnavis to meet farmers at 2 pm

    Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is set to meet the All India Kisan Sabha delegation at 2 pm, according to media reports. The farmers' delegation was earlier supposed to meet Fadnavis around noon on Monday morning but the meeting as been deferred due to the ongoing Assembly session. 

  • 11:22 (IST)

    Volunteers distribute food among farmers gathered at Azad Maidan

    Image courtesy: Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost

  • 11:05 (IST)

    Not just issue for Maharashtra farmers, but farmers all over India, says Rahul Gandhi

    ANI quoted Rahul Gandhi as saying, "This is not an issue of Maharashtra farmers alone but of farmers all over India."

  • 10:49 (IST)

    WATCH: Doctors talk about the problems farmers complained of in their march to Mumbai from Nashik 

    Facebook LIVE: Sanjay Sawant

  • 10:42 (IST)

    Security tightened around Azad Maidan, Maharashtra Assembly

    Traffic police have been deployed across the city to ensure smooth movement of traffic. Amitesh Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) told CNN-News18 that traffic is expected to flow normally on Monday, without any disruptions. He also added that security has been increased around the Assembly and Azad Maidan. Policemen are also on foot to ensure students attending their SSC Class 10 board exams are not inconvenienced in any way. 

  • 10:35 (IST)

    WATCH: Firstpost's Sanjay Sawant talks to Mumbaikars about the farmers' morcha

    Facebook LIVE: Sanjay Sawant

  • 10:32 (IST)

    Visual of injured farmers queing up for medical aid at Mumbai's Azad Maidan

    Image courtesy: Sachin Gokhale

Mumbai farmers' protest latest updates: Farmers have called off the protests after written reassurance from Chief Minister Devendr Fadnavis. Fadnavis said that the government is sensitive to the issues raised by the tribal people and will try to resolve them in a time bound manner. The government is also arranging special buses to send back the protesters to their homes.

The famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai and city residents came together on Monday to provide food for farmers and protesters who reached Azad Maidan on Monday. Providing them food and water, dabbawalas between Dadar and Colabad collected food and water to deliver it to protesters as part of their 'roti bank' initiative, reported News18.

The Maharashtra Assembly witnessed ruckus on Monday as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed MLAs over the ongoing farmers' protest in Mumbai's Azad Maidan. The leaders of All India Kisan Sabha will meet Fadnavis today.

According to the Hindustan Times, AIKS general secretary Ajit Nawale said that there is no question of a compromise. "This is not a political issue. The government must respect farmers. We have marched more than 100 kilometres and will go back only when all our demands are fulfilled.”

BJP MP Poonam Mahajan's attempt to call the Maharashtra farmers' protest driven by "urban maoists" resulted in angry remarks from protesters who said the BJP is disconnected from the farmers in the country.

The farmers' delegation led by All India Kisan Sabha leaders reached the Maharashtra Assembly at 1 pm. They will be meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss their demands and later take a call on if the protesters gathered at Azad Maidan should march to Vidhan Bhavan.

Speaking outside the Parliament, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan stoked controversy when she said that the protests happening in Mumbai on Monday are fuelled by "urban maoists".

Speaking in the Vidhan Bhavan, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state is positive towards the farmers' demands. "The state is positive about demands of farmers. 95 percent of the protesters are tribals, so technically they are not farmers," he said.

Exhausted from walking from for nearly a week over 180 kilometres, farmers on Monday remained tireless in their efforts to achieve what they came for. Speaking to Hindustan Times, a farmer from Beed, Parshuram Gaikwad said, "We will not move from the state legislature building until our demands are met."

Responding to Fadnavis' claim that 95 percent of the protesters are tribals and thus, not farmers technically, All India Kisan Sabha leaders said that it was an attempt on the part of the government to discredit the protests, reported CNN-News18. 

Ruckus ensued in the Maharashtra Assembly on Monday morning ahead of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis meeting with the AIKS leaders at 1 pm. Security has been heightened to ensure there is no untoward incident.

In a first reaction since the farmers protest began, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that the farmers' problem was not just restricted to Maharashtra, it panned across India. ANI quoted Rahul as saying: "This is not an issue of Maharashtra farmers alone but of farmers all over India."

Speaking to Firstpost, doctors at Azad Maidan, Mumbai said that most farmers complained of vomitting, body ache, blistered feet, leg pain, after having walked for more than 180 kilometres from Nashik.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is expected to meet the farmer leaders at the Vidhan Bhavan at 11.30 am on Monday. The city police has made heavy security arrangements to ensure there is no untoward incident.

The representatives of the Maharashtra farmers morcha led by All India Kishan Sabha (AIKS) are set to meet Chief Minister Devender Fadnavis at 11.30 am. According to News18, the farmers will take a call after the meeting on whether to march towards the state Assembly or not.

Security around the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai has been tightened as the AIKS-led farmers' march reached Azad Maidan on Monday morning, According to CNN-News18, tear gas shells have been kept ready.

Government sources said protesters will not be allowed to proceed to Vidhan Bhavan beyond Azad Maidan to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Only a delegation of farmer leaders from the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) will be allowed to meet Fadnavis around noon.

AIKS-led farmers at Mumbai's Azad Maidan on Monday. Firstpost/ Sachin Gokhale

AIKS-led farmers protest at Mumbai's Azad Maidan on Monday. Firstpost/ Sachin Gokhale

Maharashtra farmers, who have now reached Azad Maidan after walking overnight from KJ Somaiyya ground in Sion, are reportedly dehydrated from travelling in the scorching sun for 30 kilometres on Sunday in Mumbai. Doctors who spoke to CNN-News18, said farmers were suffering from blood pressure and diarrhea.

Speaking to ANI, Amitesh Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) said that there are no roads closed or diverted due to the ongoing farmers' protest in Mumbai. The police also cautioned travellers to not believe in rumours, on its Twitter handle.

According to CNN-News18, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will likely meet the protesting farmers at noon on Monday. The farmers are expected to march to the Vidhan Bhavan at 9 am on Monday to press the government to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. According to IANS, complete loan waiver and profit of 1.5 times input cost for all major agriculture commodities are some of the other major demands of the AIKS.

Over 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra, who embarked on a `Long March' from Nashik on 6 March to press their various demands, arrived in Mumbai on Sunday. By 5.10 am on Monday morning, they reached Azad Maidan, walking through the night.

Apart from opposition parties, Shiv Sena, a partner in the ruling BJP-led coalition, too has vocally supported the agitation.

The government reached out to farmers, promising to meet their demands, but farmers' leaders said they will press on with Monday's protest at the Vidhan Bhavan (Legislature Complex).

The farmers, led by Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), are demanding, among other things, proper implementation of the Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme.

Braving scorching heat, they have covered around 180 kilometres on foot in six days.

The protesters halted at the Somaiya ground in suburban Chunabhatti on Sunday night, and will set out for Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai, where the Budget session is underway, on Monday.

"We will gherao (lay siege to) the Vidhan Bhavan (on Monday) to demand a complete loan waiver, fair price for farm produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, compensation for hailstorm-affected farmers among other things," Kisan Gujar, president of the state council of AIKS, said.

"(On Sunday) our number is over 35,000. Over 20,000 farmers from other parts of the state will join (on Monday)," he said, adding the farmers were also protesting against land acquisition for projects such as high-speed railway and super-highways.

"Though we have been approached by the government officials advising us not to stay near the Vidhan Bhavan for long, everything will depend on how the government deals with our demands," Gujar told PTI.

From the government's side, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, who is also guardian minister for Nashik district, met farmers' leaders in Mulund as the march entered Mumbai, and assured that most of their demands will be met.

"The chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) has sent me to meet you. Most of your demands will be met. We will take a delegation to the chief minister," Mahajan said, addressing the protesters.

Senior BJP leader and Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also assured that the chief minister will meet the protestors' delegation, and blamed the "apathetic" approach of past governments for the farmers' woes.

"Our government is committed to address all the grievances of farmers, which have accumulated due to the apathetic approach of the last several years...We are very sensitive towards farmers and two ministers (Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara and Mahajan) have already been asked to look into their demands," Mungantiwar told PTI.

Ajit Navale of the AIKS, however, dismissed the overture. "The days of living on assurances have passed. Unless the government gives us something concrete, commits itself in writing, we will march towards the Vidhan Bhavan," he said.

Senior Shiv Sena leder and cabinet minister Eknath Shinde and Yuva Sena (Shiv Sena's youth wing) chief Aditya Thackeray also greeted the protesters in suburban Vikhroli.

Thackeray said the Shiv Sena stood "shoulder to shoulder" with farmers in their struggle.

It was wrong to say that farmers were demanding loan waiver, as they are not criminals that they should need a `waiver', Aditya said, adding "farmers are fighting for `freedom from debt'."

As so many farmers have marched to Mumbai despite the government's grand loan waiver, Sena leaders have demanded to see the list of actual beneficiaries of the scheme, he said.

Opposition Congress, NCP, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and AAP, as well as ruling ally Shiv Sena have extended support to the farmers' march.

Patidar leader from Gujarat Nikhil Sawani, who joined the march, said his community supported the protesters.

As the march reached suburban Vikhroli, the phalanx of farmers — comprising both men and women — extended for almost three kilometres.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said that adequate security arrangements had been made.

With inputs from PTI

Published Date: Mar 12, 2018 19:43 PM | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2018 19:49 PM

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