Updated: January 25, 2021 7:59:46 am
OVER 6,000 farmers from across 21 districts in the state arrived in Mumbai in a convoy of 500 vehicles to begin their three-day sit-in at Azad Maidan in solidarity with protesting farmers at the Delhi border. Senior leaders cutting across party lines, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, will be addressing the gathering on Monday. The farmers have gathered under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha’s (AIKS) Maharashtra unit.
The rally is part of the call given by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is leading the Delhi protests, to intensify and broaden the struggle from January 23 to 26. More farmers are expected to join the gathering on Monday.
While the bulk of farmers who entered Mumbai on Sunday were members of AIKS, other farmer organisations as well as political parties, including the MVA alliance, will also be a part of the protest. Farmer organisations and political parties will be present on a single platform of Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha.
The rally will be addressed by political leaders, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar at Azad Maidan, and in the afternoon the entire contingent will march to Raj Bhavan to meet the governor and hand him a memorandum against the new farm laws.
Leaders of the AIKS have claimed that over 50,000 farmers are expected to take part in Monday’s march. The agitation will conclude on the morning of January 26, Republic Day, with a flag hoisting ceremony and with a pledge to make the struggle of farmers and workers victorious at all costs.
“This march is being held to support and expand the historic two-month farmer struggle in Delhi for the repeal of the three farm laws and for a central law to guarantee a remunerative MSP (minimum support price) and procurement all over the country,” said AIKS National President Dr Ashok Dhawale.
Dhawale said the delegation also wanted the state government to ensure the effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act.
The farmers’ march had commenced from Nashik on Saturday. Nearly 5,000 farmers, who converged at Igatpuri by late Saturday, resumed their journey early on Sunday walking down the 10-km Kasara Ghat on the Mumbai-Agra highway. To facilitate the movement of the farmers, Nashik police shut down one side of the national highway. All shops and dhabas adjoining the route were also asked to shut down.
Farmers walked down the ghat in the searing heat to the tune of traditional tribal musical instruments. After a two-hour trudge, the farmers got on to their vehicles and headed to Mumbai arriving in the city late in the evening.
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Chaitanya S said elaborate bandobast arrangements were made for farmers’ rally. “In addition to the local police deportment, extra support in form of 100 officers, 500 constables has been provided. Apart from this, nine platoons of SRPF have been provided and drones will also be used,” the spokesperson said.
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