Nearly 10,000 farmers and tribals from across Maharashtra assembled under the Left’s umbrella in Nashik to press for land rights, loan waiver, remunerative prices, drought relief and redress of agricultural woes, bringing the city to a grinding halt for two days.
The protesters held a sit-in agitation surrounding the Collector’s office, blocking access to arterial roads and important locations like the S.T. Stand. Many schools in the city had to declare holiday. The two-day siege of the Collector’s office ended on Wednesday only after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met their delegation at the State Secretariat (Mantralay) in Mumbai, and promised measures to alleviate their problems. The massive protest in Nashik in eastern Maharashtra was launched by the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha, which is affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha.
“In the last one year, 3,228 debt-ridden farmers have been forced to commit suicide – the largest number being in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. In the past 20 years from 1995, over 65,000 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra. Maharashtra has, in fact, become a veritable graveyard of farmers. The current grim drought situation has made things worse. Just two days ago, there was the shocking case of Madhav Kadam, a poor 27-year-old farmer from Nanded district, committing suicide outside Mantralaya in Mumbai, because he had not received the full amount of the extremely meagre compensation of Rs 6,800 for crop loss due to drought. Drought relief measures in the state are conspicuous by their absence,” said Ashok Dhawale, National Joint Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha. The farmers sought implementation of the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission regarding remunerative prices for all crops. While the CM met a delegation of the AIKS leader, he refused to grant a loan waiver. He told them that the state was taking measures to strengthen the farmers and the infrastructure. The Rajya Kisan Sabha has threatened a more massive agitation if the CM fails to keep his promises.