More than 15,000 farmers from Maharashtra have set out on a foot march in Ahmednagar district to press for their various demands including adequate compensation for land acquisition and remunerative price for milk, cotton and other crops.
Several women were also part of the march which began on Wednesday, under the aegis of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), from Akole in Ahmednagar. The march will culminate on Friday at Loni in the district, located about 230 km from Akole.
The farmers carrying red flags of the AIKS shouted slogans to raise their demands and accused the state government of being “corrupt”, as per a release issued by the AIKS.
The demands of the AIKS include vesting of land in the names of peasants and agricultural workers, proper compensation for essential land acquisition, remunerative price for milk, cotton, soyabean, tur, gram and other produce.
The farmers, who have been opposing import of milk and dairy products, have also demanded adequate compensation for crop loss due to natural calamities, increased pension for peasants, agricultural workers and destitutes, mediclaim and housing facilities for construction workers, increased remuneration and status of government employees for anganwadi, ASHA (accredited social health activist), mid-day meal and other unorganised workers.
As per the protest organisers, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, at whose office in Loni the march will culminate, invited a delegation of the AIKS for discussions at the Sahyadri state guest house in Mumbai on Tuesday.
“While some progress was made in the discussion as regards his (Vikhe Patil’s) revenue and dairy development departments, no other minister concerned was present with regard to the issues raised by the AIKS,” the organisation said in a release.
“That is why the AIKS decided to go ahead with this march, despite pleas from the state government to call it off,” said the release.
Before the march began on Wednesday, farmers held a meeting which was presided over by AIKS president Dr Ashok Dhawale.
Economist R Ramakumar addressed the farmers. Noted journalist P Sainath has been walking with farmers as part of the march.