OVER 500 farmers, some of them participants of the 2018 farmers’ march to Mumbai, crammed into 70-odd vehicles and embarked on a 1,260-km road journey from Nashik to Delhi to join the protesting farmers.
While the congregation was not as impressive as the one in 2018, the All India Kisan Sabha, which organised both the marches, said that they expected the numbers to swell as various contingents were expected to join the march on the way.
The farmers are protesting the three farm laws introduced by the central government. At least five rounds of formal talks have been held between the Centre and 40 farmer unions to break the deadlock, but the unions are demanding complete rollback of these laws.
“In terms of sheer numbers this may not be a large crowd but it is just the starting point. As we stop at various places in the state before reaching Delhi, we will at least have 5,000 farmers. The 2018 march too started small,” Dr Ajit Nawale, state secretary of AIKS, told The Indian Express.
The 2018 march had seen mobilisation of around 30,000 farmers who gheraoed Vidhan Bhavan seeking among other demands implementation of the loan waiver scheme of 2017. The peaceful march had been praised for the manner in which it was carried. “This time round, it is Delhi instead of Mumbai, but we are optimistic the impact will be the same,” Nawale added.
Several of those gathered at the ground on Monday had also participated in the long march.
On the decision to drive down to Delhi, Nawale said, “Walking all the way to Delhi is not an option and we would have preferred taking trains. However, due to lockdown measures, the only option we had was using vehicles.”
Ram Nikam, a farmer affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), sitting in a bus that was part of the rally, said, “Till the time we get assurances in writing we will find it difficult to believe the central government. In the past PM Narendra Modi had promised Rs 15 lakh in every account. We all know what happened.”
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