Even though police have imposed severe restrictions and taken some of their leaders into custody thousands of farmers have gathered at Nashik’s Mumbai Naka for their second historic long march. They are aiming to reach Mumbai on February 27, covering a distance of 180 kilometres.
The call for the Kisan Long March was given by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Close to 80,000 farmers from 23 districts are participating in the march this time.
This time, the AIKS has issued a 15-point charter of demands. Main demand of the farmers is to implement the assurances given to them after their march held March, 2018.
Ashok Dhawale, AIKS president said, “Although Maharashtra has announced a loan waiver package worth 34,000 crore in 2017, government announced that it was not able to distribute only 17,000 crore until now. We want the government to take the immediate steps to fulfill the commitment made to the farmers”.
Similarly, it had promised to provide land titles to the landless farmers and execute the Forest Rights Act. But excluding Surguna tehsil in Nashik, pattas are not given anywhere. Government gave it in Surguna as after pressure from MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit.
AIKS has been asking the government to give land belonging to various temples in Maharashtra to the farmers who have been plowing these tracts of land. He said “There are around 6 lakh hectares of land under temple trusts that are cultivated by the landless farmers. Hence these farmers have a natural right over the land”.
Dhawale further said “In the same way, government had promised to increase the pension for elderly farmers from Rs 600 / month, but it increased it to Rs. 900 / month, instead of 3,000 / month as demanded by the farmers.
The farmers have also asked the government to introduce a farmer-friendly crop insurance scheme, better payment for crops, short-term & long-term measures to help growers to drought-proof their farms. He said, “As immediate actions, government must provide drinking water, increase the number of jobs available under MNREGA and waive school and college students fees”.
In the first ever Kisan Long March in March 2018, over 40,000 farmers from North Maharashtra had walked for seven days. From March 6 to 12, these farmers walked peacefully from Nashik to Mumbai to raise their demands.
The Maharashtra government had accepted all of their demands with the assurance on the floor of the state assembly by none other than CM Devendra Fadnavis himself. He had said that the farmers’ rights on forest agricultural lands will be cleared by May 1, 2018. He had also accepted a number of other demands. But not a single demand has been met till today.
The farmers are resolved this time to wake up the government from its slumber and will not stop till their demands are met.