EVEN AS thousands of farmers from across India gathered in New Delhi to draw the attention of the Union government to continuing agrarian distress and their demands, various groups of professionals held a “solidarity” march near the Dadar station on Thursday as part of the nationwide ‘Nation For Farmers’ movement. About 60 protesters gathered at the station, alongside similar protests in Nashik, Nagpur, Jalna, Pune and Aurangabad.
At Dadar, supporters from different walks of life, including artistes, professors and photographers, showed their support for the farmers’ demands, such as a special session of Parliament to discuss agrarian distress.
Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, who was at the protest, said: “If we do not stand for the rights of farmers, then it will be suicide for the entire community. It is time we support their cause.”
Many carried placards and posters in Marathi that said, “we do not support a nation that tricks its farmers” and “if the government cannot provide food to the farmers, it is useless”. The protestors also raised slogans and discussed various issues, including suicides by farmers, drought, farm loan waiver and crop insurance.
Ahead of the CPI(M)-All India Kisan Sabha’s proposed march of over 1 lakh farmers from across India to Delhi on November 29-30, various groups have pitched in with support through social media campaigns, awareness drives, posters, seminars and discussions in colleges and universities, to garner the support of the educated middle class. Some of these groups are named Students For Farmers, Youth For Farmers, Photographers For Farmers and Doctors For Farmers.
Sujata Patwardhan from the Bombay University and College Teachers Union said, “In a civilised society, there must be no agrarian crisis. If learned individuals like us can come together to show support to their cause, it will gain momentum.”
Supporters also criticised the recent visit by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to Ayodhya, saying this does not help the cause of farmers. Advocate Pradip Salvi, who was at the protest, said: “Instead of the religious institutions, they must support the cause of students and farmers.”