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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 19:43:15 IST
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Mumbai farmers protest updates: Central Railways to run 2 special trains as protesters decide to head home

Highlights

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 

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. 

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)

'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.”

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.”

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. 

10:14 (ist)

Mumbai-based artists, poets join farmers' protest march

A group of 50 poets and artistes on Sunday joined the ongoing farmers' protest march in Mumbai, reported The Indian Express. Artists from groups such as 'Banned', ‘Yalgar’ and ‘Kalsangini’ joined the farmers at the KJ Somaiyya ground in Sion. They recited poems of popular Marathi reformers such as Anna Saheb Sathe and Vaman Dada Kardak. 

Speaking to Indian Express, poet Dharmarakshit from the group 'Yalgar' said, "Farmers are the bread-winners of the entire nation. It is time we supported their cause and show them solidarity. Our group has always supported the actions of those who have fought for what is right."

09:57 (ist)

Similar protests took place in June 2017

In June 2017, similar protests had boiled over most parts of the state, forcing the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government to announce a conditional Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver, which farmers said has not been implemented properly.

Similar demands of loan waiver and 50 percent profit over the input cost have been made by farmers across the country, putting the BJP-led central government in a fix.

09:40 (ist)

Mumbaikars extend support to farmers

As farmers, who have travelled from Nashik over 180 kilometres, reached Mumbai on Saturday, Mumbai residents did their bit to help them out. According to The Times of Indiathe Thane Matadata Jagran Manch provided nearly 500 kgs of food grains to peasants camped at the BMC octroi ground. 

Another group collected footwear for farmers who continued to walk in the scorching heat with blistered feet. “We were shocked to see the farmers walk barefoot on the highway. Some of us removed our footwear and offered it to the women, while others decided to donate shoes the following day,” said Nita Karnik, a resident who delivered 100 pairs of shoes.

08:59 (ist)

Protesters not be allowed beyond Azad Maidan, say govt sources

According to NDTV, 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. The Left-affiliated peasant organisation, which is leading the protests, said they are open to consider what the government offers them. 

11:50 (ist)

Mumbai Police collaborates with NGOs to provide protesting farmers water and medical facilities

Akhilesh Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police told The Hindu that adequate personnel have been deployed along the Eastern Express Highway, which the farmers will be using on Sunday morning to march to Sion. The police has also asked several companies of the State Reserve Police Force and Riot Control Police to be on standby.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Mar 12, 2018 - 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. 

Mar 12, 2018 - 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. 

Mar 12, 2018 - 17:03 (IST)

Farmers satisfied with our decisions: Maharashtra Minister Girish Mahajan

Mar 12, 2018 - 17:00 (IST)

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

Mar 12, 2018 - 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. 

Mar 12, 2018 - 16:32 (IST)

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. 

Mar 12, 2018 - 16:27 (IST)

Farmers call off stir after written assurance from CM

Mar 12, 2018 - 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 

Mar 12, 2018 - 15:54 (IST)

FirstCut By Manjul Toons

Mar 12, 2018 - 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.

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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