A 15,000-strong force of farmers under the banner of Kisan Long March completed its fifth day of protest on March 17. Led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the march, which began from Dindori in Nashik district on March 12 with the intention of reaching Mumbai, is currently camping at the Idgah Maidan on the Mumbai-Nashik highway.
The farmers have said that they will disband the march only after the State government places their demands on the floor of the Assembly on March 18.
A statement from the AIKS said that following a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, six Ministers and several bureaucrats, the AIKS decided to halt the protest as the talks ended on a “positive note, with the State government acceding to most of the 15-point charter of demands of the farmers”.
However, until the minutes of the decision are not placed on the floor and instructions about their implementation are not sent out to the Divisional Commissioners and District Collectors, the march will remain on the road.
The AIKS also said that in the Charter of Demands, the most important demand was remunerative prices, particularly for onions, and also for cotton, soyabean, tur, green gram, milk, and hirda. The march is demanding Rs.2,000 a quintal for onions, and an immediate subsidy of Rs.600 a quintal, along with changes in export policies.
The other major demands are complete loan waiver to the peasantry; waiving of pending electricity bills and provision of 12-hour daily supply of power; compensation by the government and by insurance companies for the damage sustained by peasants owing to unseasonal rains and other natural calamities; vesting of all forest land, pasture, temple, inam, waqf, and benami land in the names of the cultivators; increase in the PM Housing Scheme subsidy from Rs.1.40 lakh to Rs.5 lakh and conducting of a fresh survey and including the applicants’ names in the ‘D’ list.
Additionally, the protesters are seeking compensation in cases of necessary land acquisition as per the Kerala formula; increase in old age and special pension amount up to Rs.4,000 a month; restoring the old pension scheme for government employees who have joined after 2005; provision of 100 per cent grant to partially aided schools; filling up all vacancies in government posts; regularisation of all contract workers and scheme workers as government employees; and removal of fake adivasis in government posts and replacing them with genuine divasis.
This is the third time that farmers from Nashik are protesting in large numbers. In March 2018, about 50,000 farmers walked to Mumbai demanding similar actions. The State government assured them that their demands would be met. When little headway was made, the farmers once again marched to Mumbai in February 2019. The AIKS said that the farmers were placated but the government has not come through on any assurances.