No trouble for students: Over 50,000 Maharashtra farmers march overnight

Mumbai: Azad Maidan in south Mumbai turned into a sea of red on Monday morning as thousands of farmers, carrying red flags, converged here after walking around 180 kilometres under blazing sun over the last six days.
The farmers plan to surround the Assembly complex to press for their demands of an unconditional loan waiver, and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years.
They reached Azad Maidan early on Monday, after camping at KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion area.
However, Amitesh Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) on Monday said that no road would be closed due to the protest march by the All India Kisan Sabha’s farmers.
Kumar said, “No road closure or diversions will happen due to Farmers’ Morcha now”.
The CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, which is spearheading the protest, said it will consider what the government has to offer.
CPI(M) leader Ashok Dhawle said over 50,000 people have joined the protest.
“We will begin our rally after 11 am today so that students appearing for their Class 10 board exam don’t face any difficulties,” he said.
Tribals from Thane district have joined the farmers from Nashik district in the protest.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday night said his government will talk to the farmers who have undertaken a ‘Long March’ to the city to press their various demands.
“We will talk to them and sort out their issues. The Government is positive on their demands. Most of the agitators are tribals, and their main demand is forest land rights,” Fadnavis said.
“We have set up a committee of ministers to hold discussions on their demands. I have invited them (farmer leaders) for talks,” he said.
Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan, who welcomed the march at Mulund in suburban Mumbai on Sunday, also said the government, which has earlier met demands made by farmers, will consider their latest ones.
The opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and also Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led ruling alliance in the state, have extended support to the farmers’ demands.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray met the farmers on Sunday.
In November 2017, the state government announced a farm loan waiver, terming it the “biggest loan waiver in Maharashtra’s history”.
In February 2018, state Governor Vidyasagar Rao told the state legislature that the government has transferred over Rs 12,000 crore into bank accounts of 31 lakh farmers.
Farmers also want the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report, which says farmers should be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price should be fixed keeping this in mind.
While there is no likelihood of all farmers being allowed to proceed to the Assembly complex from Azad Maidan, a delegation of farmer leaders will be allowed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.