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

Protesting farmers reached Mumbai's Azad Maidan by 5.10 am on Monday morning, after walking through the night. They will set out for the state Assembly later in the day.

FP Staff March 12, 2018 19:49:43 IST
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Mumbai farmers protest updates: Central Railways to run 2 special trains as protesters decide to head home

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.

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

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

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