In Maharashtra, farmers, activists protest against Centre’s farm Bills

Published : September 26, 2020 15:42 IST

At a protest against the farm Bills in Thane, Maharashtra. Photo: By Special Arrangement

On September 25, over 50,000 peasants from 21 districts blocked national and state highways in Maharashtra to protest the farm Bills cleared by the Narendra Modi-led government. Mobilised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), they staged rasta roko protests at key junctions across Maharashtra. “Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and West Bengal were also protesting on this day, so it was a massive show of solidarity,” said Ashok Dhawale, AIKS president.

A larger number of women and youth from the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) also participated in the agitation making it the largest mass action in Maharashtra post the lockdown.

An AIKS media release said large-scale agitations took place in Palghar, Thane, Nashik and Ahmednagar districts. A major section of the Mumbai-Baroda-Jaipur-Delhi national highway was blocked by peasants who burnt copies of the Bill. Other districts where effective action took place were Solapur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune in Western Maharashtra region; Nagpur, Wardha, Amravati, Yavatmal and Buldana in Vidarbha region; Nanded, Parbhani, Jalna, Beed, Aurangabad and Usmanabad in Marathwada region; and Nandurbar in North Maharashtra region.

Dhawale and other AIKS functionaries say the Centre claims the Bills are related to agriculture reforms, which are meant to “free” farmers from the mercenary middlemen. However, this is just a guise to open the sector to India’s corporate sector. The farmers’ movement does not believe it has to do with helping or saving the rural economy. In a few places, workers of the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena also joined in the protests.