Farmers participate in a long march organised by All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Monday.

Farmers Call Off Protest as Maha Govt Vows to Meet Land Demands

The Maharashtra government, on 12 March, vowed to meet the demands of over 35,000 farmers who were camping in Mumbai following a week-long march. The farmers marched 180 km from Nashik to Mumbai to demand a complete farm loan waiver and the implementation of recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Commission.

  • Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis promised to meet the demands of the farmers
  • Fadnavis had met a delegation of the protesting farmers in the state assembly
  • The farmers marched to Azad Maidan late at night, saying they did not want to trouble Mumbai residents by blocking roads on 12 March
  • A 6-member panel has been set up by the Maharashtra government to look into the demands

We Have Accepted Most of Their Demands: CM Fadnavis

Addressing the farmers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter.”

Govt Should Fulfil Their Commitments: Anna Hazare

Prominent social activist Anna Hazare said, “Only promising to fulfill the demands won't work, it's now the duty of the govt to work towards fulfilling what they've committed. They should think about the welfare of farmers so that they don't have to take it to the road next time.”

CM Has Agreed to Meet Their Demands, Implementation Will Start in 6 Months: Savara

Vishnu Savara, Tribal Development Minister of Maharashtra said, “The farmers were demanding that they should be made the owners of the entire land that is cultivated by them. The Chief Minister has agreed.”

Savara said the chief secretary will follow up on the matter and the implementation will start in 6 months.

Congress' Randeep Surjewala Compares Farmers' Protest With Dandi March

Live: Congress Addresses a Press Conference

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addresses a press conference on farmers march to Mumbai

Posted by The Quint on Monday, March 12, 2018

Also read: In Pics: With Blistered Feet, Distraught Farmers End Long March

CM Fadnavis Meets Farmers' Delegation, Vows 'Positive' Action

“We're positive towards fulfilling their demands," Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said in the state assembly, following a meeting with a delegation of the protesting farmers. "Since the first day of the morcha we tried to discuss issues with them. Girish Mahajan was in touch with them from day 1. But they were firm on taking out the march,” he said.

Also read: Loan Waivers & Other Demands: Why Are Maharashtra’s Farmers Angry?

Farmers' Delegation Meets CM Fadnavis

Meeting with delegation of farmers and all political parties begins at Vidhan Bhawan under the chairmanship of Maharastra CM Devendra Fadnavis.

"Won't Leave Till Our Demands are Met": Protesting Farmers Tell The Quint

Urban Maoists Behind Farmers' Long March: BJP MP

In an interview with CNN News 18, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan said that the farmers’ protest was kindled by urban Maoism.

Sadly, in Maharashtra, tribals have been captured by urban Maoism the centre of which is in Pune... literacy has gone down in tribal areas and the government can do a lot for them but somewhere these ideologies (Maoism) are stopping them. But at the end how we are looking at them is that they are Maharashtra’s tribals and we will look after them.
Poonam Mahajan, BJP MP

She said it was clear that urban Maoists were behind the protest as participants were waving Communist party flags.

Farmer's Delegation to Meet CM Fadnavis

A delegation of farmers have gone to meet CM Devendra Fadnavis. A delegation of minister are likely to visit Azad Maidan where the farmers are protesting.

An Issue for Farmers All Over India: Rahul Gandhi

Commenting on All India Kisan Sabha protest in Maharashtra, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said: “This is not an issue of Maharashtra farmers alone but of farmers all over India.”

(Photo: Ankita Sinha/The Quint)
A woman with blistered feet at the farmer’s long march in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan.

Amenities Provided for Farmers

An ambulance, water tankers, vada pav for breakfast have been provided by authorities for the farmers.

Protesting Farmers Likely to Meet CM Fadnavis Later Today

Demanding a complete loan waiver from the Maharashtra government, over 30,000 farmers gathered at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, on Monday, 12 March.

(Photo: Ankita Sinha/The Quint)
Farmers at Azad maidan.

The farmers are likely to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later in the day. However, it is not clear whether the delegation of farmers would meet a group of ministers or if the chief minister will meet the farmers at Azad Maidan.

Protesters Will Not Be Allowed Beyond Azad Maidan

Government sources told NDTV that the protesting farmers will not be allowed to proceed beyond Azad Maidan, which they reached in the early hours of Monday, 12 March. A delegation of farmers will then be allowed to come to the Vidhan Bhavan to meet Chief Minister Fadnavis.

The Left-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha, which is leading the protest, told NDTV that they were open to considering what the government had to offer.

Six-Member Committee Formed to Look Into Demands

The Maharashtra government has appointed a six-member committee to look into the demands of the protesting farmers, ANI reported.

According to the report, the six members making up the committee are Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan, Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara, state Cooperatives Minister Subhash Deshmukh and Shiv Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde.

The decision to form this committee was taken at a meeting held at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ house.

Farmers Reach Mumbai's Azad Maidan

(Photo: ANI)
(Photo: ANI)

Members of the All-India Kisan Sabha reached Mumbai’s Azad Maidan in the wee hours of Monday after marching around 15 km all night from Somaiya Garden, ANI reported.

The farmers plan to proceed to the state Assembly, nearly two kilometres from Azad Maidan, later in the day, to gherao the Vidhan Sabha.

Farmers March Overnight to Avoid Inconvenience

The farmers, who had camped at the Somaiya ground in suburban Chunabhatti, said they plan to move towards Azad Maidan, about 15 km away, around midnight.

“We do not want to put citizens of Mumbai or SSC students in any trouble. But we will reach Azad Maidan. Therefore, we have decided to start walking past midnight,” AIKS president Ashok Dhawale said.

Leave for Exam Centre Early: Maharashtra Education Minister

In view of farmers' march, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde has advised SSC students to reach the exam centres in Mumbai well before the scheduled time.

Thousands of Farmers to 'Gherao' Vidhan Sabha Tomorrow

The Maharashtra government reached out to farmers promising to meet their demands, but the representatives said they will demand the same during Monday's protest at the Legislature Assembly.

The protesters will halt at the Somaiya Ground in suburban Chunabhatti on Sunday night, and set out for the Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai, where the Budget Session is underway, on Monday.

(Photo: PTI)
Farmers of All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS) march from Nashik to Mumbai to gherao Vidhan Bhawan on 12 March, demanding a loan waiver.

"We will gherao (lay siege to) the Vidhan Bhavan tomorrow to demand a complete loan waiver, fair price for farm produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, compensation for hailstorm-affected farmers among other things," Kisan Gujar, president of the state council of AIKS, said.

Today, our number is over 35,000. Over 20,000 farmers from other parts of the state will join tomorrow.
Kisan Gujar told PTI

Ready for Talks: Fadnavis to Agitating Farmers

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday night said his government will talk to the farmers who have undertaken a ‘long march’ to the city to press for their demands.

He also appealed agitators not to hold up the traffic on Monday so that students appearing for class 10 exams in the city are not delayed.

The government is positive on their demands. Most of the agitators are tribals, and their main demand is forest land rights. We have set up a committee of ministers to hold discussions on their demands. I have invited them (farmer leaders) for talks.
Devendra Fadnavis to PTI

"I have only made an appeal that they should not cause any problem to the traffic since it's an exam day and more than one lakh students will get affected," Fadnavis said, referring to the ongoing standard 10th exams.

This Govt Can't Do Anything For You: Raj Thackeray to Farmers

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday came out in support of the farmers who have reached here after undertaking a 'Long March' to Mumbai from Nashik to press their various demands including full loan waiver.

This government is incapable of doing anything. I have come to greet you. You have come all the way in this heat. Give me the reins of power and I will show what can be done.
MNS chief,Raj Thackeray 

"Don't forget your bleeding feet. These people (the BJP-led Maharashtra government) have shown you dreams, but have not kept their word," Thackeray said.

Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation Supports Farmers Protest

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) announced that it would provide water, toilets, and other amenities to the protesters at the farmers protest in Mumbai on 11 and 12 March.

The Municipal Corporation said that 40 mobile toilets, four water tankers, a stationary ambulance, and extra manpower would be provided to help the protesting farmers.

The Municipal Corporation added that pay-and-use toilets near Mumbai’s Azad Maidan have been instructed to provide free services for the next two days.

No Govt can Be Insensitive to Farmers' Problems: RSS

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi said there was a need to change the agrarian policy and the government has to ensure that farmers get a proper price for their produce. However, he noted that there were a few obstacles in doing so.

Replying to a query on farmers' issues, he said their problems should be understood sensitively and practical solutions found for them.

"No government can be insensitive on the questions related to farmers and it has to be sensitive towards farmers and find ways to address their problems. It is their job to think and find a solution,” Joshi told reporters at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) of the RSS in Nagpur.

NCP Joins Farmers' Protest March, Mumbai

NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad and NCP female wing State President Chitra Wagh joined the farmers' rally in Vikhroli, Mumbai, promising the support of the NCP to the farmers’ protest.

Aditya Thackeray Meets Protesting Farmers in Mumbai, Talks Reportedly Fail

(Photo: ANI)
Shiv Sena Chairperson Aditya Thackeray addresses the protesting farmers. 

Shiv Sena Chairperson Aditya Thackeray met the farmers of All India Kisan Sabha and interacted with them shortly after the 30,000 strong group of protesters entered Mumbai.

Thackeray said, “Shiv Sena is with the farmers, not just in principle, but on ground as well. We stand by them," CNN News-18 reported.

All Shiv Sainiks, whether they are ministers, MPs, MLAs or local leaders, will try to remove your difficulties. You said ‘Lal Salaam to me.’ I say to you, ‘Jai Maharashtra.’ Whatever our (political) colour may be, we are people who are rooted to the ground. Our troubles are the same.
Aditya Thackeray, to the farmers association

CNN News-18 reported that the first round of talks had failed, with the leaders of the farmers’ protest stating that “no discussion had been held.”

Sitaram Yechury also hit out at the BJP Government in a tweet, stating that “farmers should get their rightful due.”

Will Fulfil Farmers' Demands: Maharashtra Govt After Preliminary Meeting

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Girish Mahajan assured that the government would look into the farmers’ demands and fulfill them, after holding a preliminary meeting with the leaders of the farmers association, the All India Kisan Sabha, CNN News-18 reported.

"The government will look into the demands of the farmers’ and fulfill them. A more comprehensive official delegation will meet with them tomorrow," Mahajan told CNN-News18

Agitating Farmers to Meet Maharashtra Government Delegation on 12 March

All India Kisan Sabha state general-secretary Ajit Nawale said the protest march would continue on Monday despite a meeting with a delegation of the Maharashtra government, FirstPost reported.

Nawale added that the agitators will halt at Mumbai’s Somaiya Ground on the night of 11 March and resume their protests at 9 am on Monday 12 March. Their protest will take them from Ghatkopar to Sion, Dadar, and then Byculla, FirstPost added. The agitations will end at CST, the report added.

Raj Thackeray to Meet Protesting Farmers at 5 PM

CNN News-18 reported that MNS President Raj Thackeray will meet with the protesting farmers at 5 pm to hear out their demands.

The farmers also said, to CNN News-18, that they were open to dialogue, but were upset that no one from the government had met them over their demands in the past week.

They added that they were relieved that the government was responding more actively after they entered Mumbai.

Farmer March Enters Mumbai

(Photo: ANI)
The farmers march crossed Mumbai’s Thane and Mulund on the afternoon of Sunday, 11 March. 

The All India Kisan Sabha's protest march has crossed Thane and Mulund areas and are now closer to the heart of Mumbai. Over 30,000 farmers are currently participating in the march, demanding complete loan waivers along with a number of other demands.

Traffic Advisory Issued in Mumbai

In view of this large incoming group of protestors, Mumbai Police has issued a traffic advisory and tightened security for Monday.

The Eastern Express Highway, southbound from Anandnagar toll plaza to the Somaiya ground, will remain closed on Monday for heavy and goods vehicles from 9 A M to 11 PM, Mumbai Police said in its advisory. These vehicles will alternately be diverted via Kalwa, Airoli, Vashi Creek and Vitava..

The Traffic Control Branch of the Mumbai Police also advised people to avoid travelling on the route of the march and use alternate routes (eg, LBS Road, Sion-Panvel Road, Thane-Belapur Road, etc).

35,000 Farmers Reach Thane

The All India Kisan Sabha’s (AIKS) protest march reaches Thane’s Anand Nagar. The AIKS is the farmer wing of Communist Party of India — Marxist (CPM). NDTV reports that the crowd has swollen to nearly 35,000 farmers with more joining along the way as they reach Mumbai.

The march will be attended by AIKS national president Ashok Dawale, CPM MLA JP Gavit, state president Kisan Gujar and working president Arjun Ade among others.

[Shiv Sena leader Eknath] Shinde has welcomed the protestors in Thane district and extended support to the demands of the farmers. He said he was conveying the message of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Similarly, Abhijit Jadhav, an emissary of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, also met us and got me in touch with the MNS chief over the phone. The MNS too has extended support to our demands.
Ajit Navale, AIKS General Secretary, speaking to PTI

Why Are Thousands of Farmers Marching Towards Mumbai?

The Mumbai traffic police have already begun issuing traffic diversion plans, as the financial capital of India braces itself for over 30,000 farmers who are marching towards the city on Monday, 12 March. Hailing from Maharashtra’s most farmer suicide-prone districts, the group has been walking for four days, intending to cover 180 kilometres on foot from Nashik to Mumbai to convey their demands to the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government.

Proper implementation of the loan waiver scheme and implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission – these are the key demands of the farmers.

The farmers, who will reach Thane on Saturday, 10 March, are planning to arrive in Mumbai on Monday and ‘gherao’ the Maharashtra Assembly. The number of protesters is likely to swell by the time the group reaches Mumbai.

But what prompted them to hit the roads now? This is definitely not an overnight phenomenon.

Also read: Why Are Farmers from Maharashtra’s Nashik Marching to Mumbai? 

Were the Political Promises Fulfilled?

After facing droughts for four consecutive years and subsequent crop failure, farmers across Marathwada and Vidarbha region turned to the state government to waive their loans. Forced to budge under pressure from farmers’ groups and the Opposition, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a historic loan waiver in June 2017 under the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana.

At the time of the announcement, the chief minister had claimed that Rs 34,020 crores would be allocated for the scheme. Not all farmers were eligible for full loan waiver. Those eligible to avail the scheme were clubbed into three categories –

1. Those who can avail full loan waiver

2. Those who were eligible to get an incentive amount

3. Those eligible for a one-time settlement

With the Central government refusing to lend a helping hand, the entire cost has to be borne by the state government. As of 6 March, Rs 13,782 crore have been handed out as loan waivers to 35.68 lakh farmers. At the time of announcement, 89 lakh farmers were expected to benefit from the scheme.

While farmers lashed out against the delay in implementing the loan waiver scheme and the many conditions placed on the beneficiaries, the Opposition too criticised the Fadnavis-led BJP government over the issue.

Tracking the Protest March

The 30,000 protesters have reached Bhiwandi in Thane district on Saturday, 10 March, after they left from Nashik on Wednesday.

(Photo courtesy: Twitter/<a href="https://twitter.com/ANI/status/972345653052497921">ANI</a>)
Protesters reached Bhiwandi in Thane district around Saturday afternoon.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/<a href="https://twitter.com/ANI/status/971677436705411072">ANI</a>)
Protesters left from Nashik on Wednesday for Mumbai.

The protesting farmers are likely to reach Mumbai at 10 am on 12 March.