Protesting farmers reach Mumbai, traffic woes loom

Posted March 12, 2018

The march led by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) began on Tuesday from Nashik and it will reach Mumbai on Sunday. The 180-km "long march" of farmers and farm activists has already received support from all parties except the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), underlining broad concerns around the farm sector and the isolation of the BJP on the issue.

"Farmers marching into Mumbai".

Ajit Nawale of AIKS said senior Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde met protesting long march leaders when it entered neighbouring. He added they were all here to present their charter of demands to the government.

As so many farmers have marched to Mumbai despite the government's grand loan waiver, Sena leaders have demanded to see the list of actual beneficiaries of the scheme, he said. By Monday morning, the protesters claim the numbers could swell above 40,000 as farmers from nearby Palghar and Konkan districts are also expected to join the agitation. "How can the government let billionaires like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya (another fugitive) have gala time at foreign shores and farmers suffer because of increasing debts?" asked a protesting farmer. The huge crowd that has camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground, will start to move towards Azad Maidan, a large ground designated for protests in South Mumbai, around midnight.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which is leading the rally, said that thousands of farmers, accompanied by their wives and parents, have joined the cause.

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Keeping the fact that Monday is the first day of the week and also a day when Class X Board exams are taking place, the farmers' march will cause a lot of inconvenience, the government argued, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has extended support to the farmers" "long march' now underway against the BJP government. "We are prepared to work with the farmers shoulder to shoulder to achieve their demands", Aditya said.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Congress state president Ashok Chavan declared their support to the protest.

In a letter to Modi, Tiwari, who has been working with the farmers, particularly in Vidarbha region for decades, seem to have come out in support of BJP leadership but blamed bureaucrats and administrative machinery for the crisis. On Monday, they plan to block access to the state legislature building. Just like the 30,000 farmers Samadhan Gave, 42, is also walking to Mumbai from Nashik.

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