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Thousands of farmers march from Thane to Mumbai, demand land rights, loan waiver

Magsaysay award winner Dr Rajendra Singh, also known as Waterman of India, is among the marchers.

PTI | Mumbai |

Demanding compensation for drought and the transfer of forest rights to tribals, thousands of farmers and tribals began a two-day march from Thane to Mumbai on Wednesday, eight months after a similar protest that started from Nashik.

Magsaysay award winner Dr Rajendra Singh, also known as Waterman of India, is among the marchers. They started walking Wednesday afternoon and will reach the Somaiyya Ground in Mumbai’s Sion area where they will halt for the night.

They will reach Azad Maidan in south Mumbai early on Thursday and will try to hold a demonstration near Vidhan Bhawan, where the state legislative session is underway, a leader of the march said.

The participants are mostly from Thane, Bhusawal and Marathwada regions, he said.

The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which suggested that farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water. They are also demanding an increase in the Minimum Support Price and a judicial system to ensure its implementation.

The farmers, struggling to cope with the agrarian crisis, are demanding proper implementation of the loan waiver package announced by the BJP-led government in the state last year, land rights for farmers and compensation for farm labourers.

“We have been consistently asking the state government to fulfil our long-standing demands but the response has been lukewarm. We are forced to launch this agitation,” said Pratibha Shinde, general secretary of Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which is organising the protest.

“We are taking maximum care to ensure that Mumbai citizens are not inconvenienced,” Shinde said.

In March, thousands of farmers, led by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, took out a 180 km long march from Nashik to Mumbai in March to press for their demands.

That protest saw a sea of red, formed by farmers in red caps, converge in Mumbai from across Maharashtra.