India: After huge marches, government agrees to farmer demands

March 15, 2018
Tens of thousands of farmers marched for five days to Mumbai, India, to demand agrarian reform.

A sea of red swept the Indian state of Maharastra as tens of thousands of farmers joined the Long March to demand agrarian reform, with protesters reaching Mumbai, India’s financial capital. In response, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has agreed to resolve the farmers' issues within six months.

The marches came on the heels of a rise in farmers’ suicides across India, with an estimated 12,602 farmers committing suicide between 2015 and 2016.

Faced with government promises, the farmers decided to withdraw their protest for now, according to The Hindu, a left-leaning Indian daily. 

Irrigation minister Girish Mahajan said: “The government has agreed on 100% of demands, including transfer of land title.”

The farmers began their march from the south-western city of Nashik to Mumbai on March 6 and arrived in Mumbai five days later after walking nearly 140 hours. 

The farmers’ main demands include debt abolition, an adequate fixed minimum support price for their produce and the right to land for the tribal cultivators as part of the 2006 Forest Rights Act.

Mohan Prakash, a spokesperson for the opposition Congress party, told The Hindu: “Since Modi has come to power, the country’s farmers have been the worst hit ... Farmers products prices have crashed but their raw material prices have surged.”

In November, farmers held huge nationwide strikes to demand agrarian reforms. Despite the government promises to address their issues, not much has changed to date.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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