Maharashtra farmers’ 'long march' invades Mumbai
50 thousand farmers march demanding the extinction of agricultural debts that cause thousands of suicides each year and the ownership of the land they cultivate. The peaceful protest started six days ago from the district of Nashik. They walked about 180 km.
Mumbai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The city of Mumbai, Maharasthra's megalopolis and the most important economic-financial hub in India, has turned red. At least 50 thousand poor farmers flooded the streets in a peaceful and orderly manner, waving red flags and wearing headgear of the same color. They marched for about 180 km for six days, under the scorching sun and sleeping camped outside. The farmers are demanding the extinction of agricultural debts and land ownership they have been cultivating for generations.
They left on March 6 from Nashik district, yesterday about 35 thousand demonstrators arrived at the gates of Mumbai, and gradually their number rose to 50 thousand. At midnight they resumed what was called the "long march" and this morning they gathered at Azad Maidan, a popular sports field. The protest is organized by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a peasant movement associated with the Communist Party. Among the participants, numerous women and children, many of them arrived at the end of the journey in an evident state of dehydration.
The protesters denounce harsh working conditions and the low income from their products. The local government, which has agreed to meet with a delegation, is calling for the extinction of agricultural debts, already promised last year but never respected. This request is the basis of another dramatic issue afflicting the rural world: the high rate of suicide among farmers who cannot repay the required loans. The participants also asked to be paid at least one and a half times the price of the harvest and the ownership of the land cultivated in the forests passed to the tribal farmers.