Even the dip in city temperatures has failed to dampen the spirits of the farmers who have walked all the way to Mumbai from different rural districts of Maharashtra to protest against the contentious farm bills. The farmers arrived on Sunday afternoon and spent the night at the open Azad Maidan ground. The makeshift tent failed to accommodate all of them. As a result, many had to spend the night under the open sky.
Vishnu Chavan, 51, has come to the Azad Maidan all the way from Parbhani district. Chavan stated that during the night the weather became very cold and it became difficult for them to stay on the ground.
“Two senior citizens who came with us fell ill this morning and we had to send them back,” Chavan told to the Free Press Journal.
The farmers came with bags full of ration along with quilts and blankets for sustaining them. Although the call for the sit-in is for three days, many of them have said that they are ready to extend their stay if the need arises.
“Our brothers are protesting at the Delhi-Haryana border for more than two months, we are ready to go to any extent to show them our support,” said Narayan Pawar, an onion farmer from Nashik.
While a majority of the farmers are from the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), other independent outfits also joined the cause. Deepak Sathe, a sugarcane farmer from Baramati stated that unless the farmers come together, the central government will not roll back the contentious bills.
Alongside the men, a significant number of women were also seen at the Maidan. The women stated that from each household it was compulsory for a single member to participate in the rally.
Sushma Ashok Patil, a maize farmer from Nandurbar came along with 500 other women from her village.
“Women and men are treated equally in our community, we are part of every decision-making process which is why we are here,” Patil told the Free Press Journal.
“All the villagers are together and we are not afraid of anything, we will be here as long as it takes for us to stay,” said Kamala Ram, another farmer.
Even the fact that Mumbai Police prevented them from reaching Raj Bhavan, it failed to dampen their spirits.
“We will see for how long they will ignore us, we farmers are ready for all the hardships in life,” said Harshad Pawar, an AIKS leader.
Meanwhile, as the day progressed, Mumbaikars from various walks of life also came and joined the cause.
“All our social media is being flooded with posts about farmer's protests, we came here to show them our support,” said Preeti Gupte, a student.
“I came here because if the farmers see common people walking in, they will feel encouraged,” said Rahul Choksi, a Dadar resident and entrepreneur.