Farmers go back home in jeeps, vans, trains and buses after protests

Hannah Rogers
March 15, 2018

Maharashtra's farm sector shrunk by over 8% in 2017-18, but the distress goes beyond its borders and demands for raising the minimum support price in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission report are spreading, with Haryana farmers picking up the baton on Tuesday.

Farmers had demanded complete and unconditional implementation of loan waiver scheme announced past year, implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, compensation for 35 lakh cotton farmers whose crops have been damaged due to pink bollworm infestation, unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

Previously it was decided that farmers will spend their night at the Somaiya grounds in Sion in central Mumbai and start for Vidhan Bhavan on Monday morning, but late at the night they chose to resume the march after dinner and an hour's rest.

The protest, which was held to demand a complete loan waiver among other things, commenced on March 5. Farmers who were not entitled to the loan waiver scheme of 2008 shall be brought under the ambit of the current Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana. Fed up with the right-wing BJP government's failure to keep its promises, a group of 50,000 farmers organized by the All India Kisan Sabha, or Peasants' Union, marched over 100 miles to gather in Mumbai, the state capital. We insisted on written assurance.

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In a major victory for the farmers, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said "all demands" are being accepted.

"Last time after farmers strike they had promised loan waiver of Rs 30,000Cr". We don't know if all of that has been done.

"We are just here to fight for our fundamental right to food". "The results will be visible in elections", he said.

Amid the news that Maharashtra government is preparing to meet the farmers representatives on Monday, opposition parties extended their support to the agitation. A huge part of this decline, according to protesters, is because they need their land.

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