Mumbai: The Kisan Sabha, an umbrella outfit of the CPM which is spearheading the farmers protest, has decided to reach Azad Maidan early morning, instead of halting overnight at Somaiya ground at Chunabhatti. The organisers took the decision keeping in mind the sensibilities of citizens, especially the inconvenience the protest march may cause to students of tenth standard as there is a board examination on Monday.
In his meeting with the leaders of the Kisan Morcha, Girish Mahajan, the minister for water resources, had urged them to walk to Azad Maidan during the night, so that early morning office goers and students are not inconvenienced. The Kisan Sabha agreed to the request of the minister even as it refused to call off the march. This is seen as a smart move by the organisers who intend to embarrass the government but do not wish to alienate the citizenry.
Vinod Tawade, the minister for school education, has nonetheless suggested that students should try and reach the examination hall early. Ajit Navale, the leader of the Kisan Sabha, has also agreed to meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday. Other ministers will also be present at the meeting.
The BMC, in turn, will make suitable arrangements for the protestors at Azad Maidan. The government has pegged the number of protestors at 25,000 but media reports have contested this and are touting a figure of 35000. The number is expected to swell as farmers are still streaming into the city. The BMC has made arrangements for makeshift mobile toilets as well as water tankers and ambulance, which will be stationed at Azad maidan. The government has further instructed all pay and use toilets near Azad Maidan and Mantralaya not to charge users for two days.
The traffic is expected to go for a toss and the police are making elaborate arrangements for diversions and detours. Farmers from Kalvan, Shahapur and Palghar as well as from Marathwada and Vidarbha have joined the morcha. Apart from farmers, tribals from Satana in Nasik district and Palghar, too, have joined the morcha demanding that the Forest Act should be implemented.
Ashok Dhawle, president of the AIKS, said 50,000 people have joined the protests and the number will grow tomorrow. Assuring that the protests will not disturb the city, he said, “We will begin our rally after 11 am so that students appearing for Class 10 board exam don’t face any difficulties”. Refusing to comment on whether the protestors would be allowed to march to the assembly building, city police chief Deven Bharti said, “Top ministers are speaking to them”.