Mumbai: As a result of both natural calamities and the corrupt and immoral politics in the state of Maharashtra, the basic issues of farmers, workers, agricultural labourers and all working people have intensified. Due to the political instability the problems of the people and issues of development have got completely sidelined. Since most ruling party leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are busy offering various kinds of bribes or showing the fear of jail to break political parties, it has again become imperative to come on to the streets to solve peoples’ fundamental problems.
Against this background, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has taken the lead to organise a three-day statewide march of thousands of peasants from Akole to Loni in Ahmednagar district from April 26 to April 28.
This was announced in a signed AIKS statement by Dr Ashok Dhawale, J P Gavit, Umesh Deshmukh, Dr Ajit Nawale, Dr Uday Narkar, Kisan Gujar, Subhash Choudhary, Chandrakant Ghorkhana, Sanjay Thakur, and other Maharashtra state office bearers of AIKS.
The AIKS march is being supported by the CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI, SFI and other like-minded mass organisations. The march will be taken to the Loni office of the Revenue and Dairy Development Minister of Maharashtra, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. If the demands are not met, an indefinite Mahapadav will be conducted at Loni.
In the last two years, excessive and unseasonal rains destroyed crops in large parts of the state. The state government loudly declared that compensation would be given to farmers, but it has been given nowhere.
Assurances were given time and again to vest forest land, temple land, inaam land, waqf land, pasture land, and land for housing to peasants and agricultural workers, many of whom are actually tilling that land for several generations. But instead of vesting land in their names, the police and forest department were misused to beat up poor peasants and drive them out of their meagre land and houses. Lands are being forcibly acquired for highways, corridors, ports and airports, with very little compensation.
In the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, milk farmers were forced to sell their milk for just Rs 17 per litre! Now, just when they are trying to stand up again, the BJP central government has begun moves to import milk and dairy products, thus once again destroying their future. Prices of cotton, soyabean, tur, gram and other crops have fallen sharply.
The problems of unorganised workers like Anganwadi, Asha, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, construction workers, domestic workers, are becoming grim, with no help at all from the BJP-led State or Central governments.
In this background, this massive statewide march to the State Revenue Minister’s office at Loni is being organised by the AIKS for the following burning demands:
Vesting of the lands mentioned above in the names of the peasants and agricultural workers, and proper compensation for essential land acquisition; Remunerative price for milk, cotton, soyabean, tur, gram and other produce; Opposition to import of milk and dairy products; Adequate compensation for crop loss due to natural calamities; Increased pension for peasants, agricultural workers and destitute people; Mediclaim and housing facilities for construction workers; Increased remuneration and status of government employees for Anganwadi, Asha, Mid-Day Meal and other unorganised workers; and so on.