Walking a distance of 180kms from Nashik, in this scorching heat, when sitting in our comfortable homes makes us sweat, the farmers have shown us their mettle. The farmers who want to be freed from their agrarian woes, have gathered in thousands of numbers at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan.
These men, women and kids were to march to the Mantralaya today but because of their concern for students’ board exams, they camped at Azad Maidan – a place which has often been the centre of various movements. The farmers showed humanity for the students – will we show humanity towards them?
According to the data reported by the six divisional commissionerates in a report on livemint.com, from January, 2017 to October, 2017, 2,414 farmers had committed suicide. We rarely think about the farmers and in spite of the large number of farmers killing themselves every year, we continue to act deaf and blind.
While these red-topi warriors may appear calm on the surface, they have undergone a lot of pain and struggle. What do they want?
These are their five demands:
1. An unconditional and full waiver of loans and electricity bills.
2. Compensation for crop losses due to pink bollworm attacks and hailstorms.
3. Immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.
4. A profit of 1.5times the input cost of their farm produce.
5. Complete stopping of confiscation of farmlands in the name of developmental projects.
Here are some farmers you’d want to meet:
Solar Soldier aka Nathu Nivrutti Udar
This man’s photograph has been doing the rounds on the internet. He walks with a solar charger on his head, to charge his phone during the march. He had got the solar panel for his home but then decided to get it along on the march so the phones of other farmers can be charged and they can remain in touch. Free of cost. He lives with his family and wants the rights to four acres of forest land.
Groundnut Guardian aka Sundarabai Mhadu Bhoi
Think about this. What must have the farmers eaten for the last few days? Sundarabai ensured that she got enough groundnuts to help feed some of her fellow farmers on the march. She also is protesting to want rights over forest land. She is 60-year-old!
600-Survivor aka Gangadhar Waghmare
Waghmare told News 18, “It is our ancestral forest plot but we never got its possession. The land is rightfully ours and we demand for its possession. We have ration cards but receive ration at all. My father was also a farmer and he gets a meagre pension of Rs 600. How can we survive like this?”
(Photos: News 18)
There are many other farmers whose stories have been very compelling. They have waited for something better to happen to them. Now, they are acting on it.
Mumbaikars – and a lot of them – went to the farmers with food and water. Many have come in support of the march on various social media platforms. Here are some of the most heart-wrenching posts on the social media:
#FarmersMarchToMumbai This Long March Farmers movement canNOT be ignored!
The bare-foot walking 180-200kms while the likes of LaMo, ViMa, NiMo & others are SCOOTING comfortably! pic.twitter.com/f7Sesc21lv
— Desi PoliTicks 🇮🇳 (@DesiPoliticks) March 12, 2018
It’s 4.30 am.When the Long March of Kisan Sabha reached Byculla junction, a large group of Muslim brothers led by the Rahmani group distributed water, biscuits to the marching peasants. It was an extraordinary act of solidarity..#FarmersMarchToMumbai pic.twitter.com/xutT8Nq4NQ
— Amit Dilip Shinde (@ashinde72) March 12, 2018
— churumuri (@churumuri) March 12, 2018
They are struggling,
👉 Not to demolish mosque or temple
👉 Not to destroy statues of great souls
👉 Not in search of beef in other’s kitchen
They are in a struggle for survival, by holding red flags of hope in their hands.#FarmersMarchToMumbai pic.twitter.com/wizq2J8JUJ
— Sujesh (@Sujesh_Knr) March 12, 2018
— VIDYASINGH (@vidya7281) March 12, 2018
.@MumbaiPolice @mtptraffic on #FarmersInMumbai exclusively live honourable #AmiteshKumar the jt. cp traffic, mumbai some wonderful insights on what to expect all thru the day even from #AzadMaidan to #VidhanBhuvan #FarmersMarch #FarmersMarchToMumbai #LongMarch pic.twitter.com/nGSa6eIZhU
— jeeturaaj rj (@MirchiJeeturaaj) March 12, 2018
The protests are about lives and livelihood of farmers, with impact that goes beyond Maharashtra. When 2.4 lakh crore of corporate bank loans can be written off, why is there no money for the farmers? #KisanLongMarch #FarmersMarchToMumbai #FarmersMarch to Mumbai’s Azad Maidan pic.twitter.com/IIWekdXxOR
— Saibal Bishnu (@saibalbishnu) March 12, 2018
The least you can do is write on your personal social media feed in support of these farmers who have thought about everyone during their peaceful yet powerful protest.
Preview Photo: Reuters/ Danish Siddiqui