Mumbai: A day after the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the warrior king known to take care of farmers, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance — self-styled followers of his ideology — has cracked down on farm labourers, by pressuring them to call off the ‘Kisan Long March’ called by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmers’ wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), from Nashik on Monday.
However, more than 40,000 farmers are expected to defy the authorities and proceed to Mumbai on foot, waving red flags of protest, seeking justice from the government over ‘Jungle-Jal-Jamin’. They are expected to reach the city by February 25 and gherao Vidhan Bhavan on the first day of the state’s budget session.
“There are more than 40,000 farmers gathered in Nashik. Police has stopped the vehicles of those farm labourers on their way to Nashik at Kasara Ghat. They have booked several protestors and have denied permission for the march,” said AIKS leader Comrade Dr Ajit Nawale.
He had not received any message from the government until Wednesday evening and said the Kisan Sabha was firm about proceeding with the march despite denial of permission by police.Police have only given permission for a public rally to be held at Nashik. They have also booked several participants in Nashik.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the state minister for water resources and damage control, Girish Mahajan, to meet the organisers and resolve the issue. The Kisan Long March, led by Dr Nawale, was called last year in March during the state’s budget session.
The government had then assured them it would fulfil their demands, like the transfer of forest land to tribals and register title of the land in the name of the farm labourers who are the cultivators. Dr Nawale said, “We are frustrated and feeling betrayed by the state.
Our demands, including unconditional waiver of loans as well as electricity bills, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, including an announcement of minimum support price for agriculture produce are yet to be fulfilled.”
The Aam Aadmi Party has condemned the action of police. Dhananjay Shinde, state executive committee member of the AAP said, “Just yesterday we celebrated Shivaji Jayanti. Shivaji was essentially a farmers’ king and it is shameful that the government is acting like Afzal Khan.”Preeti Sharma-Menon, national spokesperson of AAP said, “The Fadnavis administration is cracking down on farmers as if they are terrorists.
Reports are coming from across the state that police is preventing farmers from joining the Kisan March. It is shocking that while the Constitution protects our right to protest and to dissent, the BJP government is insulting the Constitution so brazenly.”