Thousands of farmers reach Mumbai for today’s rally

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Mumbai: Thousands of farmers from across Maharashtra reached Mumbai on Sunday evening to participate in a rally at the state capital on Monday against the Centre’s three new farm laws.

Police have stepped up security at Azad Maidan, the rally’s venue in south Mumbai, and personnel of the State Reserve Police Force have also been deployed there. Drones will also be used to keep an eye on the event, a police official said.

The All India Kisan Sabha’s  Maharashtra unit in a statement said around 15,000 farmers had set out for the state capital from Nashik on Saturday in several tempos and other vehicles.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar and some other prominent leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi in the state will address the rally on Monday, the release said.

The state Congress unit, which is an ally of the MVA, has already extended its support to the protest.

Farmers from various places had gathered in Nashik and started their journey towards Mumbai on Saturday. Many peasants also joined on the way, the AIKS said.

They halted at Ghatandevi near Igatpuri hill town for overnight stay.

On Sunday morning, a number of farmers marched down the Kasara Ghat to head for Mumbai, while many left in vehicles.

Several women farmers took part in the seven-km-long march at Kasara Ghat, which started at 9 am and ended by around 11.30 am. Later, they continued their forward journey in vehicles.

The Kasara Ghat march and the vehicle convoy was led by AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale, state president Kisan Gujar and its state general secretary Ajit Nawale.

On the way, hundreds of Centre of Indian Trade Unions-affiliated factory workers from Igatpuri and Shahapur tehsils welcomed the farmers by showering flowers. At the Kalyan-Bhiwandi crossroad, the farmers were welcomed and provided food packets.

They entered Mumbai from Mulund check-naka, the entry point to the state capital from neighbouring Thane, and were welcomed at Kannamwar Nagar in Vikhroli by hundreds of workers of the Left parties.

The farmers then proceeded towards the Azad Maidan, where the joint sit-in protest by the Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha began on Sunday morning, and will continue till the Republic Day.

“The rally is being held to support and expand the two-month-long farmers’ struggle in Delhi for a repeal of the three farm laws and for a central law to guarantee a remunerative minimum support price  and procurement all over the country,” the AIKS statement said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a pro-farmer body, has given a nationwide call for a struggle from January 23 to 26, including rallies to Raj Bhavans (Governor houses) in states.

Accordingly, over 100 organisations came together and formed the Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha, Maharashtra, at a meeting held in Mumbai on January 12.

On Monday, there will be a public meeting at 11 am, the release said.

Sharad Pawar  said he would take part in the rally on Monday.

Besides Pawar, state Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, and Shiv Sena leader and state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray will also address the rally, the AIKS statement said.

Later, the protesters will march to the Raj Bhavan and submit a memorandum to Governor B S Koshyari.