The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS) has decided to march to the Maharashtra Assembly and gherao it during the coming Budget session to protest what they called non-fulfilment of promises to the agrarian sector by the state government. The march by 1 lakh farmers from Nashik will start on March 6 and reach to Mumbai on March 12.
The ABKS, which is backed by the CPI(M), wants to highlight what they said was flawed policy and implementation, along with the natural calamities, that have left farmers in a precarious condition across the state. Around 1,753 farmers have committed suicide after the farm loan waiver was announced by the government last year, the Sabha claimed.
“The farm loan waiver has turned out to be a misleading announcement and the government is cheating farmers. The demands of the 2016 protest, held in Nashik, have not yet been fulfilled by the government despite our continuous follow-ups. After farmers went on strike in June 2017, the government again promised to fulfill our demands but hasn’t done so. So this is now a do-or-die protest for various issues,” said Ajit Navale, the general secretary of the Sabha.
Among the demands of the ABKS are a complete farm loan waiver without conditions, implementation of the suggestions of the Swaminathan Commission, transferring forest land in the name of those who have tilled it for years and a review of river linking schemes to ensure that drought-prone areas of the state are not denied water.
Navale said the organisers will not seek the support of political parties. “But we urge like-minded organisations to support us,” he said.
J P Gavit, a CPI(M) legislator, said the protesters will not leave the Assembly premises till their issues are resolved. “We strongly oppose the move of giving water from the Damangaga and Pinjal rivers to Gujarat. We want it diverted to north Maharashtra and other drought-prone regions. Without causing any damage to Adivasis, they should be benefited from the river linking project,” he said.