30000 protesting farmers reach Mumbai, plan to gherao Vidhan Sabha tomorrow

The farmers who are covering a stretch of 30 km every day aims at gheraoing Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai on March 12. | ANI Twitter

The 180-km protest march - termed as the "Long March of farmers" - has been organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS), the peasants' wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

"We intend to reach Mumbai city on Sunday evening in a bid to seek attention of government towards our plight", said Tola Ram, a farmer who is attending the march.

March began at Nashik; crop failures and BJP govt's inability to deliver on its promise of a farm loan waiver are at the heart of the discontent.

The farmers are demanding a complete waiver of loans and electricity bills, implementation of recommendations suggested by the Swaminathan Committee, adequate compensation for all farmers whose crops were destroyed by the pink bollworm and pension for poor farmers.

Maharashtra, India's most prosperous state, had announced a farm loan waiver of 340 billion rupees ($5.23 billion) in June 2017, but the protest leaders said it failed to benefit all needy farmers. This farmers' ire will destroy the government, says the Sena in its mouthpiece "Saamana'".

Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, "We have one day to talk to the protesters and we will not let this protest hamper the everyday life of Mumbaikars".

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Farmers who walked barefoot from Nashik to Mumbai, cutting a distance of 200 km, have reached Mumbai's Azad Maidan to voice out their various demands. "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.

The police warned that citizens should brace for the traffic snarls as they could experience "some inconvenience" along the march route, especially considering that the Board exams for HSC, SSC, ICSE, and ISC are underway, TOI reported.

Ajit Nawale of AIKS said senior Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde met protesting long march leaders when it entered neighbouring. Live: Maharashtra farmers' protestKumar said, "No road closure or diversions will happen due to Farmers' Morcha now".

They also want tribal farmers, who mainly cultivate in forests, to be allowed to own land.

"I haven't had any discussions with any of the leaders of the protest march".

All major opposition parties and the Shiv Sena, a coalition partner in the state government, are supporting the protesting farmers.

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