Thousands of farmers from across Maharashtra reached Mumbai on Sunday evening to participate in a joint sit-in at Azad Maidan on Monday against the Centre’s three new farm laws. The farmers from the Left-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and other farm outfits had begun their 180-km march from Nashik district.
Police have stepped up security and personnel of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed at Azad Maidan. Drones will also be used to keep an eye on the event, an official said.
On Sunday morning, a sea of red snaked out of Nashik district, with farmers on foot, on jeeps and vans steadily clogging roads, toll plazas and mountainous routes of Nashik’s Kasara Ghat.
The agitators steadily made their way to the outskirts of Mumbai, waving red banners and chanting slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre. The scene echoed the ‘Long March’ of 2018, which was also organised by the AIKS to demand better milk prices for dairy farmers.
“Over 15,000 AIKS Maharashtra-led farmers from 21 districts of the State began their march on foot down the seven-km-long Kasara Ghat joining Nashik and Thane districts. Comprising a large number of women farmers and young farmers, the march began at 9 a.m. and ended at 11.30 a.m. The peasants were followed down the Kasara Ghat by hundreds of their vehicles,” said AIKS State general secretary Dr. Ajit Nawale.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, whose party is part of the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, is expected to attend the rally. The Congress has already announced its support for the agitation.
Dr. Nawale said the farmers, who formed a part of the AIKS’s ‘Vehicle Jatha’ (vehicle convoy), were welcomed by hundreds of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated factory workers from Igatpuri and Shahapur tehsils. Activists of the CPI(M)’s Thane urban committee distributed food to the protesters on their way to Mumbai.
“The farmers will be proceeding to Azad Maidan, where there will be a massive public meeting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on Monday. This will be addressed by top leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and by leaders of the Left, and democratic parties and organisations,” said Dr. Nawale.
Rally to Raj Bhavan
He said a 50,000-strong rally will then proceed to Raj Bhavan to submit a memorandum to the Governor. The agitation will conclude on January 26, Republic Day, with the hoisting of the national flag, singing of the national anthem and a pledge to make the struggle of farmers and workers victorious.
(With PTI inputs)
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