Kisan Long March: Big Victory for Farmers, Stir Postponed After Maharashtra Govt. Accepts Demands
Mumbai: In a big victory for Maharashtra farmers, the state government has accepted their demands. Following this, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) leaders ended their Kisan Long March and postponed the movement, as announced by farmers' leader JP Gavit in a public meeting at Idgah Maidan in Vasind.
The victory came after farmers endured much pain and suffering.
Pundalik Ambo Jadhav, a 58-year-old farmer from a village near Dindori in Nashik, passed away during the movement. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a compensation of Rs 5,00,000 for his family members.
The farmers' leaders dedicated the victory to Pundalik Ambo Jadhav, hailing him as a martyr.
Former MLA and farmer leader, JP Gavit. | Image by Mohit Sauda
In the public meeting, Gavit said that the government accepted all their demands, and a committee has been formed for some governance-related questions. The committee is set to present its report within a specific timeframe regarding how to fulfil farmers' demands.
Gavit further said that the government and police, which were earlier trying to derail the movement, had to come and talk to the farmers because of the sheer strength of the Kisan Long March.
"We thank them for accepting our demands," Gavit said.
The government has also organised a special train from Vasind to Nashik for the farmers to return to their homes.
Farmers' leader Jitendra Chopde, elated after the victory, said that farmers had faith in AIKS.
"We are leaving from Vasind after winning; if the government betrays us, we will return with bigger numbers after six months."
Farmers leaving for their homes. | Image by Mohit Sauda
Labour leader and national vice-president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, BL Karad, also participated in the long march and in the discussions with the government.
"Along with farmers' demands, the government has taken positive initiatives on labourers' issues. They have promised an increase of Rs 1,500 in the honorarium of ASHA workers. The contract workers will also get their salaries directly in their bank accounts," Karad said.
Karad added that these were state-level demands; there remain bigger issues.
"The workers and farmers will surround the national capital on April 5 to raise those issues. Around 10,000-15,000 farmers, labourers, and farm labourers from Maharashtra will participate in that. We are preparing for that. Tickets are being booked, and village-level and block-level meetings are being held."
Image by Mohit Sauda
Regarding the government's acceptance of the farmers' demands, CM Shinde spoke on the floor of the state Assembly. He said that he had talked to farmers' representatives on the latter's 14-point charter, including demands concerning encroachment on forest land, temple trusts, and transfer of grazing land to farmers, among others.
Shinde appealed to the farmers to end their movement, saying the decisions would be implemented immediately. He said that onion growers facing losses due to unseasonal rains and low prices would be given financial relief at Rs 350/quintal.
On the biggest demand of the farmers, the Chief Minister said that a sub-committee of the cabinet would be constituted, which would monitor the demand related to the claim of forest land up to four hectares in possession of the farmers. He said the committee would prepare the report in a month and monitor the pending claims under the Forest Rights Act.
The committee will include former MLA Gavit and sitting MLA Vinod Nikolay of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
FARMERS HAD PREPARED FOR A LONG BATTLE
The Kisan Long March had stopped at Vasind for the last two days. The farmers had built temporary settlements on the Nashik-Mumbai highway.
After starting their movement on March 12 from Nashik, farmers reached the Idgah ground of Vasind on March 16.
Sukram Pawar, a farmer, told NewsClick that his two generations have died fighting for ownership of their land.
"I don't want my children to die fighting for this; this struggle is important."
Pawar is not alone in this demand. Thousands of tribal farmers who participated in the movement demanded that the forest land they cultivate be given to them.
One look at the Idgah ground is enough to see the extent of preparations. It is similar to the farmers' movement at the borders of Delhi. Farmers brought grains, vegetables, pulses, utensils, etc., along with wood for cooking purposes.
Jidabai Gaikwad, 70, came on foot from the Nashik district with a group of 28. They brought a makeshift tent with them.
"We cook and eat together," Gaikwad said.
Farmers' groups who ran out of wood collected wood from the nearby forest.
NewsClick talked to a group from Nashik Surgan. All of them were sitting on the ground and eating food on disposal plates.
Bhaskar Jadhav, a 50-year-old tribal farmer from the group, said that the state government bowed down because of farmers' hard work and struggle.
"We will return only after our leader JP Gavit asks us to."
Many civil society people helped the farmers during their march. Hundreds of students were also involved and helped the farmers.
Tents and vehicles on the ground were insufficient to house the thousands of farmers. Hence, many people slept in the open. Along with that, they also had to endure hot weather. When they reached Vasind, it started raining, making the whole ground wet. The facility didn't have any electricity supply.
Rohit, a leader from the Maharashtra unit of the Student Federation of India, came to the march with a few colleagues to help farmers. Many people from CITU were also present.
Jagdish, a young farmer, said that they had taken a similar march in 2018.
"At that time, the farmers' issues had become secondary in the state and the country. We brought farmers' struggles to the centre of power. After that, the country saw a successful farmers' movement for over a year. We again started a movement and forced the government to accept our demands. This will give strength to the labourers of the country. Lakhs of farmers and labourers will gather in Delhi on April 5; just like we made the BJP government of Maharashtra bow down, they will also do a similar thing with the Narendra Modi government in Delhi."
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