Maharashtra government agrees to talks with AIKS on land acquisition

In a triumphant press release issued on Sunday, October 7, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) stated that the Maharashtra government was “forced to bend before the AIKS struggle in Solapur,” explaining that the BJP state government gave October 24 as the date on which concerned Ministers and other officials will hold talks with the AIKS at Mantralaya in Mumbai to discuss issues raised by the farmers’ struggle.

This came after a major protest march by farmers in Maharashtra, against the Ratnagiri-Nagpur Highway. More than 2,000 farmers affiliated with the AIKS from Sangli and Satara began marching on Thursday, October 4, and reached Solapur on Saturday, October 6, PTI reported then, adding that, according to AIKS officials, the farmers had sent a memorandum to Solapur guardian minister Subhash Deshmukh requesting time to meet with him there, but that Deshmukh did not respond. Deshmukh is the BJP MLA from the Solapur South constituency, and currently serves as Maharashtra’s Cooperation, Marketing and Textile minister. AIKS officials said that farmers planned to stay in Solapur until Deshmukh gave “them an assurance on their demands,” PTI said.

The farmers alleged that police lathi-charged them, a charge that Solapur police denied. The AIKS, on October 6, issued a press release alleging that the farmer who were peacefully agitating and seeking a meeting with Deshmukh “were brutally lathi-charged today by the police of the BJP regime at three squares in Solapur city. Several farmers were badly injured and they include AIKS state general general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale and other main AIKS activists Dr Sudarshan Gherade and Vijay Pawar.”

AIKS explained in its press release that the state government is building a new Ratnagiri-Nagpur Highway, “for which it has forcibly acquired land from several farmers in Sangli and Solapur districts without giving them any compensation whatsoever. Worse still, the government has already started work on the highway.” In light of this, AIKS said, that thousands of farmers mounted a rally in Sangli on October 4, and travelled 180 kilometres, while also meeting with those residing in affected villages along the way. This struggle has been on for six months, AIKS said. Along with denouncing the assault on the protesting farmers, the organisation also said it “strongly condemns the conspiracy by the state government of forcibly acquiring land of the farmers without paying any compensation whatsoever,” and demanded that a date be named for detailed discussions.

Land acquisition is an issue that is plaguing farmers across India. In Gujarat, farmers are fighting against land acquisition for the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project; in September 2018, as many as 1,000 farmers moved the Gujarat High Court against land acquisition for the project.



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