Maharashtra farmers call off second Long March after meeting with Gov’t

AIKS says most demands met with improvements 

After talks between Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and state representatives of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) proved inconclusive, thousands of farmers from all across Maharashtra mobilised to march to Mumbai to press for pro-farmer measures, intending to march starting Wednesday, February 20. However, after talks with state ministers, AIKS said it would suspend the march.
According to media reports, the district administration in Nashik refused permission to the AIKS to organise a farmers’ march, asking them to arrange a demonstration instead. However, the AIKS had reiterated on Tuesday, February 19, that it would proceed with the march.
AIKS also said in a statement that the organisation’s general secretary, Dr. Ajit Navale, was facing harassment by police, and that the march was being halted in different regions by force. Reports suggested that the government had decided to crack down on farmers’ groups in different parts of the state. Reportedly, farmers marching to Mumbai via the Thane-Palghar route were stopped by police at Jawhar, Dahanu, Kasa, Dhundhalwadi, Vikramgad, and other areas. AIKS also alleged that district officials had filed police cases against those who had organised farmers’ conventions in the Ahmednagar district. 
On Wednesday, February 20, Dr. Ashok Dhawale, president of the AIKS tweeted, “Huge public meeting of 40,000 peasants led by AIKS begins at Mumbai Naka at Nashik. Thousands more peasants yet pouring in. After media uproar, govt forced to release peasants from Thane-Palghar districts.”
The farmers planned to push for the government to address farm loan waivers, minimum support prices (MSP), irrigation facilities, and pensions for farmers, among other issues. In March 2018, and again in November 2018, thousands of farmers marched to Mumbai from different parts of Maharashtra, incidents that shook the political establishment. The farmers collective said the government had failed to fulfil the promises that were made to them after the March 2018 march. 
However, after an hours-long meeting between AIKS representatives and state ministers, including water resources minister Girish Mahajan, AIKS announced on Thursday, February 21, that it was calling off the march. Dhawale told Hindustan Times, “Most of our demands — 15 in all — have been met, and with improvements. Ten of these demands were given a deadline, for example, the government said the Forest Rights Act will be implemented in three months. They also agreed to maintain a constant dialogue with AIKS leaders.” Mahajan told the Hindustan Times that they had “persuaded the Kisan Sabha members to call off the march. Their demands will be met in a timely manner, and a review meeting between the government and the Kisan Sabha leaders will take place every two months”. Hindustan Times noted that the government said one of the major demands, which called for giving land under the Forest Department to farmers, would be completed in one to three months

Related Articles: 

1. Kisan Long March 2.0: Govt failed to Curb the Farmers’ Enthusiasm
2. Undeterred by State Repression, M’tra Farmers March Again




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