Thousands of farmers and tribals have started an indefinite agitation in front of the residence of Vishnu Sawara, Guardian Minister for Palghar district and Minister for Tribal Development, at Wada in Palghar.
Farmers and tribals from across Maharashtra gathered in Palghar to protest against what they called was the state government’s negligence towards the tribals and the state’s slow response to malnutrition deaths in tribal districts of Maharashtra including Palghar.
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The protest was held at Khandeshwari Naka of Wada taluka where reportedly around 10,000-12,000 farmers and tribals blocked the road.
The statewide indefinite demonstration was called by CPI(M) affiliated state council of the All India Kisan Sabha which is demanding immediate steps to reduce malnutrition deaths along with implementation of Forests Rights Act 2005 and of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme.
Ashok Dhawale, National Joint Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, said, “The issue of malnutrition deaths is really serious, but the government is taking it lightly. Earlier, we agitated in Nashik when Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis assured us to meet our demands but nothing has been implemented on ground. Now we will not recall the agitation unless the minister comes here and gives us a promise in writing.”
Kisan Gujar, the State unit president of the Kisan Sabha, said, “We are demanding the government to give the tribal and forest lands to tribal people if tribals are cultivating that land, to release payment of work under Padkai scheme, to give priority to providing water from dams in tribal areas to tribal population and to improve tribal ashram schools and hostels which are in a bad condition.”
“This are all basic facilities, but the government is neglecting the tribal population,” he added.
Ajit Navale, secretary of Kisan Sabha, says, “The farmers themselves have taken the stand that they will not leave unless the minister meets us. Additional tribal commissioner met us but issues have to be discussed by the minister and not a local officer of the government.”
Police took precautionary measures and increased security. Shivshankar More, spokesperson for Palghar police, said, “We have taken all necessary security measures to avoid any untoward incident as most of the protesters are not locals. As of now, there are around 10-12 thousand protesters. We have increased security in the area and at the residence of the minister.”