Massive farmers’ rally walks 180km from Nasik to Mumbai, demand higher prices, loan waivers

Mumbai: Close to 50,000 farmers assembled in Mumbai protesting and demanding higher crop prices. Many farmers have been in debt, and despite Narendra Modi’s promise to ensure a 50 percent return over production costs, nothing has moved on the ground.

The farmers reached Mumbai after marching almost 180 kilometers (124 miles) for nearly a week from Nasik to protest outside the state assembly, according to Ashok Dhawale, president of the All India Kisan Sabha, which is leading the protest.

The city’s police control room, however, said the assembled crowd numbered 10,000 to 12,000. Maharashtra is the country’s second-biggest producer of cotton and sugar cane and third-biggest grower of pulses.

Farmer suicides in India have been a regular phenomenon and since 2013 over 12000 farmers have committed suicide every year.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government was quite sensitive and positive towards the issues raised by thousands of farmers and tribals who have entered the city after a 180-km walk from Nashik.

Fadnavis told the assembly that 95% of those camping at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan are tribals and “technically” not farmers, even as thousands of protesters wait to meet him on several demands.

The Hindustan Times reported that the farmers are exhausted, but determined to achieve what they have come for. Parshuram Gaikwad, a farmer from Beed, told HT, “We will not move from the state legislature building until our demands are met. There is no way anyone will back out after reaching so close to the destination. Yes, we are tired and our legs have swollen, but we will complete the walk.”

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