Myriad of farmers started entering into Maharashtra along with the Adivasis or the tribal people days before to join the epic march that started on 6th March. It was well organized and peacefully executed. As being pragmatic they decided to walk at night just to ensure that board-exams do not get disturbed and Maharashtrians don’t feel any inconvenience.
Filled with all hope and optimism they completed their long walk of 180kms in 6 days from Nasik to Mumbai with plans to surround the legislative assembly. They completed their journey facing the scorching sun and many ended up with blistered foot. They were led by left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and were witnessed holding flags of the communist party. People supported their cause by providing footwear and food on their way.
In India, farmers face various challenges and are forced to live in misery. Government’s development programs and diktat leave them with no choice but to surrender their lands or face the repercussions. No one seems sensitive to their demands and the culmination of indignation resulted in this massive protest. According to the government report, around 12,000 farmers commit suicide each year. Such is the tragedy of a nation which is agriculture based and most of its rural population is involved in agriculture.
“Sometimes heavy rains wash away our crops. Sometimes it doesn’t rain and our crops burn out. Last year my crops were destroyed by a disease,” said Chhabu Pawar, 61, Adivasi farmer from Nashik’s Kalamdare village. Sharing his grievances with the media Lasu Bhoye a farmer told that for the past five years, farming has been a consistently loss-making enterprise for him and other farmers in Nashik. He also told that bank refused to sanction his loan because land titles are not in his name. Their ordeal does not end here. There are thousands of them facing hundreds of problem for achieving sustenance. Apart from the farmers there were tribal people also showing their dissent.
Jirabai Lilke an Adivasi earlier went to jail along with other Adivasis from her village for protesting in Nashik district. They had been demanding for land rights.
“We are here to demand the forest land that the government has been promising to give us for 20 years,” said 62-year-old Lilke from Nashik district’s Korat village.
All these accounts and anecdotes clearly describe the struggle they have been facing. Farmers form a very important part of our economy and thus, they must be taken care of. People are migrating from rural to urban areas because today no one wants to cultivate land in a harsh climate and end up making no profit.
Here is what farmers have demanded:
- State government should stop forceful acquisition of farmlands for highway projects and bullet train. To discontinue sharing of water with Gujrat and interlinking of rivers was another concern.
- AIKS who spearheaded the march demanded implementation of recommendations of Swaminathan Commission mandates farmers be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price be fixed for their produce.
- Tribal cultivators demanded the implementation of Forest Rights Act and transfer of land in their name which they have been cultivating for years.
- A compensation of 40,000 to those whose crop was hit by hailstorm and pink bollworm.
On Monday (12th March) morning the Fadnavis belittle the cause and said that 95% were Adivasis and not farmers. The protest ended only when he finally accepted the demands raised by the dissidents. State minister Chandrakant Patil told that government has given acceptance in writing and all those who will be eligible, their demands will be fulfilled. Also, the process for the execution of the demands will start in 6 months.
The problem lies not with the government schemes but with the improper implementation. Benefits do not reach the beneficiary. And then issues start piling up until something like this happens. By such a peaceful demonstration they once again proved the strength of “Ahimsa” which Gandhiji emphasised his entire life.
SALUTE TO THESE FARMERS.