Over 25,000 farmers led by the All India Kisan Samiti (AIKS) marched to the Palghar district collectorate in Maharashtra on Tuesday, May 30. They had come from all the eight tehsils of Palghar district. Adivasis, women and youth peasants formed a large chunk of this huge rally, which protested together, walking to the gates of the collectorate, marched in, and occupied its grounds over three hours until the end of the AIKS delegation’s discussions concluded with the District Collector.
This was the fourth large mobilisation of people from Thane-Palghar district in the last three months. Over 1,000 peasants had joined at short notice for the AIKS-led Dindori to Vasind Long March in March 2023; over 8,000 had joined the AIKS-led March from Akole to Loni in April 2023; over 12,000 women had joined the large AIDWA-led rally on the Palghar Collectorate just last week on 24 May; and over 25,000 peasants joined the AIKS-led rally to Palghar on 30 May.
Thousands of forms for land rights – over forest land, absentee landlords’ (varkas) land, temple trust land, inaami land, pasture land, etc had been filled from peasants by the AIKS for the last one month. All of these were submitted to the Collector and receipts taken. The demand is that these get recognition.
In the two and a half hour positive discussion of the AIKS delegation with the district collector, Govind Bodke and other concerned officials, he conceded several demands concerning land rights, water and irrigation, MNREGA, ration, and other issues, and assured their implementation within a time frame.
The three most important assurances given were:
- A complete and detailed list of the current status of all 61,000-odd claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006 in the district would be made available to the AIKS;
- All the thousands of land rights applications of different categories that were submitted on Tuesday by the AIKS would be processed village-wise and decisions taken in a positive spirit;
- As regards the absentee landlords’ land, the Adivasi peasants actually cultivating the land would make applications when there was a standing crop in their fields in September 2023, this would be checked, and made the basis for making them tenants and then owners of the land. It was during the glorious AIKS-led Adivasi Revolt of the 1940s that hundreds of rapacious landlords were forced by the newly-freed Adivasi peasants to leave the areas, and abandon their lands.
This latest mass rally led by the AIKS in Palghar was led by the organisation’s national president, Dr Ashok Dhawale, state president, Umesh Deshmukh, state secretary Dr Ajit Nawale, state vice president Kisan Gujar, AIDWA national general secretary Mariam Dhawale, CITU State Secretary Vinod Nikole, MLA, AIKS District President Chandrakant Ghorkhana, secretary Chandrakant Dhangda, vice presidents Radka Kalangda and Kiran Gahala, treasurer Vijay Katela, AIDWA state secretary Prachi Hatiwlekar, vice president Lahani Dauda, and joint secretary Sunita Shingda, DYFI state president Nandkumar Hadal, and many others.
On Wednesday May 31, a similar rally of the AIKS will be held at the Thane District Collectorate in Maharashtra.