Monday, 15 October, 2018

Thousands of farmers protest in Delhi, demand loan waiver

The farmers who are covering a stretch of 30 km every day aims at gheraoing Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai on March 12. | ANI Twitter The farmers who are covering a stretch of 30 km every day aims at gheraoing Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai on March 12. | ANI Twitter
Ray Hunter | 15 March, 2018, 06:04

Like their counterparts around the world, farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra face low crop prices and heavy debt burdens, and a precarious livelihood.

Modi, who had promised to double farmers' income over five years, remains a popular leader almost four years into his term. The government now has six months' time. The farmers want to be paid double what they now receive, hoping to eventually get one and a half times what the crops coast to grow. "It will be a mass movement", Sitaram Yechury told ANI.

"BJP and government want "Vipaksh Mukt Bharat", our and farmers" demand is "Karza Mukt Bharat'".

The farmers led by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha termed this as a "historic struggle" and a "historic victory". "This long march started after govt went back on their promises back then", Sitaram Yechury added. As soon as the meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis concluded yesterday, the protesting farmers hopped onto rickety jeeps and vans, bearing MH-15 and MH-16, registration numbers of Nashik and Ahmednagar from where they had come, in the evening.

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Over 30,000 farmers held a protest march, walking for about 180 km in the sun from CBS Chowk in Nashik to Mumbai's Azad Maidan.

The farmers are demanding waivers on agricultural loans in the aftermath of unseasonal rains that destroyed crops as also more support from the government, fair prices for crops and the transfer of forest lands to tribals, who have been tilling them for decades. Demands of the farmers also included waiving the electricity bills, establishment of a national-level farmers' commission, better health services for the farmers, etc.

"We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter", said Fadnavis after concluding the meeting at the Vidhan Bhawan here.

"There are two dedicated trains for farmers wanting to return - one a 13-coach general class one at 8.50 pm and the other with 18 coaches at 10 pm, both from CSMT to Bhusawal".

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