On the evening of January 18, Dadar, central Mumbai's crowded area, was flooded with women farmers who gathered in hundreds at Vir Kotwal garden to protest against the “anti-farmer” laws. It was part of the ongoing protests across India against the Modi government's three recent farm laws. The women farmers were accompanied by organisations supporting their cause in the state.
Under the banner of 'Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha', more than 100 organisations have joined hands to launch a statewide protest in Maharashtra. The protest is against three “anti-farmer” and four “anti-labour” laws passed by the central government. The scheduled protests are aimed to reach all corners of the state and make people aware of the laws. On January 18, the women farmers led the protest to register their solidarity in this struggle.
"With this protest, we are also in the process to mobilise women in the state. Special efforts are on. Our volunteers are going to basti after basti (slum) and telling them about the laws and how these laws will cause more unemployment and push people to poverty. The response is increasing gradually," said Sirat Satpute, an activist with the Rashtra Seva Dal.
The joint forum has also planned to get the youth on board. In Kolhapur, youth activists launched an awareness campaign at the crowded Bindu Chowk. They distributed pamphlets on the laws, invited people to join the protest and support the farmers.
To take the movement forward, the joint forum of farmers and labourers will reach Mumbai, the country's financial capital. They plan to start a sit-in agitation in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan from January 24 to January 26, on Republic Day. The forum has appealed farmers to come with food for three days. "As farmers are sitting in Delhi's borders, we too will sit here in Mumbai. More than 30,000 farmers are expected to reach Mumbai by the morning of January 24. This agitation will awaken India's financial capital and amplify our voice," said Dr Ashok Dhawale, president of All India Kisan Sabha.
Looking at the possibility of a strong protest, the state government has also become cautioned and appealed farmer unions to avoid a protest in Mumbai. The state's Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has requested farmers to hold protests at district headquarters instead of Mumbai. "The laws are passed by Modi Sarkar. We are with farmers and won't implement those laws in the state. So, we request farmers to hold protests in districts or go to Delhi. I hope they will understand that the MVA (Mahagathvandhan) is with them in this battle," said Pawar to reporters in Pune.
On the other hand, all non-BJP parties have decided to hit the street on January 26. All the senior leaders of MVA alliance partners will join a rally against farm laws. As farmers have kept the political parties out of their protest, the parties are now joining hands against the BJP. It was decided by the MVA coordination committee to launch a protest over the issue that has heated up across India.