Thane: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers and farmers staged a protest rally at Thane on Friday. The morcha was led by MNS Thane president Avinash Jadhav and party leaders Nitin Sardesai and Bala Nandgaonkar. In the rally, party workers, leaders and auto drivers were present in a large number, but fewer farmers took part.
The MNS workers had come from Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Thane Rural, Dombivli, Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi regions. According to police sources, 2,000 to 2,500 people attended the farmers’ protest rally. However, the MNS claimed that 25,000 people took part. A huge police contingent was also deployed in Thane.
The morcha proceeded from Gamdevi ground to Talawpali, court naka and culminated at the collector’s office. Most of farmers, present in the morcha, were brought from Parbhani, Beed, Solapur and Sangli districts, but the farmers from Thane and surrounding areas give the rally a miss.
MNS office-bearers and activists took out the rally on bullock carts. The protesters were holding banners and shouting slogans against the Centre and the BJP-led state government. Talking to the Free Press Journal, Mohara Ashok Guley (23), whose debt-ridden husband committed suicide sometime back, said, “I have two sons.
We live with my mother-in-law at Sarali village in Beed. Due to drought in the state and burden of the debt, my husband killed himself. But, I never got any compensation from the government. How will I survive with my children? No one is there to help us.”
Jayshree Chandrakant (25), a Sarali village in Beed, resident, has three children. She said, “My husband committed sucide two years back, as he owed about Rs1,00,000 to a moneylender. In the drought, our entire lemon and other crops had damaged.”
A Shetkari Samajik Sewa Sanstha worker, Suresh Raut, said, “We are protesting, under the banner of MNS, as we want our problems resolved. Our major issue is Reliance Gas Pipeline acquired our land, but we did not receive the compensation that we deserve.”
Avinash Jadhav, MNS Thane district president said, “The BJP-led government claims to be working for the welfare of farmers, but the real picture is dirty. A reply on why farmers were stopped last week from selling mangoes in Thane city will also be sought.”
Thane BJP MLA Sanjay Kelkar said, “The MNS’s allegations that BJP was anti-farmers is wrong. We have been arranging farmers mela at nine spots every week in Thane for the last three years. We have checked their land documents and permissions to farmers who come here, sell their produce and earn profits. We arranged the civic nod and not a single penny as rent was charged from the farmers. BJP wants to empower tillers.”
The MNS rally organised this rally, as there was a clash at the MNS office at Vishnunagar in Naupada area of Thane city last week. The clash erupted between the MNS and BJP workers. Police had resorted to lathicharge to bring the situation under control. A case against 20 people from both sides was also filed. The BJP was opposed to putting up the stalls on the footpath, and dubbed it illegal.
A team of encroachment department officials removed the stalls. It was a prestige issue for the Thane MNS unit, who viewed it as a threat to farmers’ livelihood, and organised a Kisan Rally on Friday. ,Furthermore, the MNS also took up the issue of a farmer who was stopped from selling his produce in Thane. Jadhav had claimed the farmers were not allowed to install their stalls amid the pressure from the BJP.