India: Long march by farmers succeeds after gov’t accepts demands

March 30, 2023
Long March by Indian farmers 2023
The Long March by Indian farmers in Maharashtra state. Photo: @cpimspeak/twitter

Thousands of Indian farmers who had been marching in the State of Maharashtra concluded their protest on March 18 after the government accepted their demands. They had begun their march on March 12. The farmers, who were marching from Nashik to the state’s capital of Mumbai, were led by the All India Kisan Sabha, a left-wing farmers’ organisation.

The farmers had a 17-point charter of demands — the most important of which was remunerative crop prices, especially for onions. They also sought ownership rights on forest land for tribal farmers under the Forest Act 2005, immediate financial relief of Rs 600 (A$11) per 100 kilograms to onion growers, a 12-hour continuous power supply, and farm loan waivers, among other demands.

The government was forced to accept the demands after several rounds of negotiations. Speaking at a public meeting announcing victory, farmers’ leader JP Gavit said a committee has been formed to look into the implementation of some of the demands. The government has announced the implementation of other key demands, like an increase in the subsidy for onions.

One protesting farmer — Pundalik Ambo Jadhav — died during the protest.

Shortly after the 250-kilometre march began, the government promised it would accept the demands. However, the farmers were not convinced as the government had gone back on similar promises before. Hence, they halted their march but declared that they would not return home until concrete steps were taken regarding their implementation. Following this, the chief minister of the State, Eknath Shinde spoke in the state legislature on the issue and details were also provided to farmers on the implementation of their demands.

Maharashtra was also the venue of the historic Farmers’ Long March of 2018 when thousands marched from Nashik to the state’s capital Mumbai.

India’s farmers and workers are set to hold a major mobilisation across the country on April 5 to push for a variety of demands.

[Abridged from Peoples Dispatch.]

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