At least 35,000 farmers in Indian state of Maharashtra reached Mumbai on Sunday after marching about 180 km in the blazing sun over the last five days with blistered feet from Nashik.
They camped at the Thane-Mumbai border this morning before heading for the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion. The traffic police say they are prepared and have also issued a traffic advisory to avoid jams in the city. Elaborate security arrangements are also in place, police said, reports NDTV.
The farmer contingent, including tribal cultivators, led by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, plans to gherao the Vidhan Sabha on Monday to press their demands for complete loan waiver and transfer of adivasi land to farmers who have been tilling it for years. The adivasis, who have joined the movement in huge numbers, say it is a matter of life and death.
Ashok Dhawle, president of the AIKS, said they met Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan on Sunday who had assured them that he would take their demands to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray met with the farmers today.
Dhawle has also promised a peaceful protest and said that people of Mumbai will not be inconvenienced. ‘We started with 25,000 and today our strength touched the 50,000 mark. It will swell further tomorrow, but it will not disturb the city. We will begin our rally after 11 am so that students appearing for their Class 10 board exam don't face any difficulties,’ Dhawle said.
The farmers began their arduous march on Tuesday evening. Their numbers swelled along the way. They survived on sparse meals, made brief halts and slept under the open sky. They resumed their march before the sun was up and didn't stop before noon.
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