Lakhs of farmers, opposing the anti-farmer and pro-corporate laws introduced by the Modi government, are continuing their protests at the borders of the national capital for over 20 days. Ignored by the Union government and refused entry to the capital by the Delhi Police, these farmers—mostly from Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—are to be joined by thousands of farmers from Maharashtra, who have decided to strengthen the agitation by marching to Delhi.
These farmers, under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee – an umbrella body of over 250 farmers’ organisations and one of the faces behind the current mobilisation at the capital – will converge at Nasik on December 20. From there, they will begin marching on December 21 led by Dr Ajit Nawale, secretary of the Maharashtra unit of All India Kisan Sabha. The farmers will be joined by AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale at the borders of the capital, where the protesting farmers have been camping.
"The farmers’ march from Nasik to Mumbai had brought down the arrogance of then Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra. Now, its time for the Modi government. No other government in the history of India has fired tear gases on farmers and drenched them in the middle of winter. But these tricks have failed and farmers are still on the outskirts of Delhi," Dhawale told NewsClick.
He added that the Maharashtra farmers are fully prepared to join the historic ongoing battle in Delhi to repeal the three laws. "There will be no compromise on the fundamental demands of this agitation. The government can come up with any trick to buy time, but farmers have lots of patience. We will peacefully protest until anti-farmers laws are scrapped," he said.
According to Nawale, around 20,000 farmers are expected to join the march in the first phase. With AIKS taking the lead in mobilising the farmers, other organisations are also planning to join in. Members of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana will protest at the gates of Reliance Industries office in Mumbai on December 22. The protest will be joined by various organisations including the Jan Andolanachi Sangharsh Samiti (JASS) and others.
Also read: Widespread Support in Maharashtra for Farmers’ Protest in Delhi
"We will ask Ambani how much more he wants? He has everything with him. Why is he eyeing the farms of the poor farmers? We will peacefully go to his office for the protest," said former MP and leader of SSS, Raju Shetti.
The first meeting of state committee on the farm laws took place in Mumbai on Thursday, December 17. In this meeting, Congress leader and minister Ashok Chavan firmly registered his protest against the implementation of laws. He submitted his letter in the meeting detailing his and his party's position on the laws.
"Maharashtra is a progressive state which has always protected its farmers. These laws are pushing farmers into uncertainty about their rightful incomes. In such case, the state, which is in control of agriculture as subject as per Constitution, can't allow these laws to be implemented in the state," he told NewsClick after the meeting.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is chairman of the committee, said that the decision on the farm laws is pending. "We will speak to everyone. Farmers of the state will be protected and the state government won't allow anything which will harm their interests. We will submit the report to CM Thackeray once all the consultation process over," he said to reporters.
Also read: Farmers’ Uprising – A Broad Timeline