Farmers’ March: Demands, Personal Stories And Decades Of Injustice
- IWB Post
- March 12, 2018
In what is being called a “sea of red”, tens of thousands of farmers have marched to Mumbai overnight from Nashik. Their splintered feet or the scorching heat has not stopped them from staying their ground and seeking solutions for the agrarian distress.
The farmers’ march made it to Mumbai on Sunday night after covering 180 kilometers on feet. Spearheaded by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the congregation had plans to halt at Sion in the suburbs and then march till Azad Maidan the following morning. However after an appeal made by Chief Minister where he asked them not to disrupt the traffic owing to board exams they overlooked their fatigue and sleep and started walking towards the Azad Maidan at midnight itself.
Despite their own personal stories of hardships and pain, the farmers have been considerate to ensure that they cause no inconvenience to the students whatsoever. The way they have been conducting themselves has appealed to the Mumbaikars who are also coming forward to extend their support to them.
The agrarian community, despite providing for the entire country, is often looked down upon in India. I don’t even need to mention, droughts, floods, and suicides because by now everyone knows about their predicament.
While they toil day in and day out irrespective of the weather just to ensure that everyone in the country is provided for, there is no one out there to check if their needs are being taken care of. How long will a community so benevolent and integral be taken for granted in this country is the matter of concern here.
Here are some of their heart-wrenching stories:
Sundarabai Mhadu Bhoi aka Groundnut Nanny
60-year-old Sundarabai Mhadu Bhoi is among those few farmers who have carried groundnuts with them to feed others. Despite the fact that the groundnuts are what the farmers are surviving on right now she generously offered the nuts to a few reporters who went there in order to interact with the farmers.
Time and again and in all aspects the farmer community has shown its selflessness and she is just a small manifestation of the same. Is not it high time we stop being selfish towards them? She said, “We started marching on 5th March towards Nashik and reached on the 8th day. All of us protesting want rights on our forest land.”
Pushparaj Bhaudu Gotarne
Pushparaj belongs to a tribal community of Nashik and is a father of five. His fight is for the ownership of an ancestral forest land of 4.5 acres. Considering the fact that he has been tiling the land since childhood that doesn’t come across as a preposterous idea at all.
Pushpraj shared, “I am illiterate. I don’t know in which year I was born, what is my age. I don’t know when I have been tilling my land. I can only tell you, I till it, my father tilled it and his father used to till it too.”
“It is our ancestral forest plot but we never got its possession. The land is rightfully ours and we demand its possession,” says 23-year-old Gangadhar. His question is the question of every farmer out there when he asks, “How can we survive like this?”
“Minimum support price is a problem. There has been no increase in pension since my grandfather’s time. I have a family of 6 to support,” says 31-year-old Mangesh.
Nathu Nivrutti Udar
48-year-old Nathu has found a unique way of extending his support to his fellow farmers. He has come up with a solar panel tied to his head in order to charge farmers’ phones free of cost.
He is fighting for his own problems but does not stop him from extending his help to others. He says, “I have a wife, two children, and three buffaloes. I want ownership of the four acres of forest land.”
Let us now look at the demands that are being made by these farmers:
-AIKS is demanding for the “implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. It makes it mandatory that the farmers be paid 1.5 times the cost of production.
-A demand for a fixed Minimum Support Price for their produce has also been made.
-The Adivasis are demanding that the lands that they have been cultivating for years should be transferred to them and be registered with their names.
-The Adivasis are also demanding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act as if would immensely benefit them.
-The farmers have also raised the concern of sharing water with Gujarat and they want it to be discontinued. A demand for inter-linking of rivers has been put across.
-An unconditional loan waiver scheme is a major demand put across by the farmers. The demand comes after a few of them could not qualify for any financial relief last year under an initiative taken by the Maharashtra government last year.
-A compensation of Rs. 40,000 per acre to every farmer is being demanded hit by hailstorm and pink bollworm.
-In many stances, the state government has forcefully acquired the lands of farmers for various development projects. Discontinuing this practice is also being demanded.
Addressing the situation Maharashtra CM Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “A ministerial committee has been formed to discuss the demands with protesters. We will take a decision to resolve their issues in a time-bound manner.”