An unexpected spell of rain in Maharashtra’s Vasind has enforced some much-needed rest to the footsore farmers marching to Mumbai to flag their demands. The downside — few will get any sleep tonight. The ground, where they planned to crash, is wet and muddy.
Visuals from the roadside in Thane’s Vasind showed farmers taking cover under plastic sheets rigged to cars and trucks amid the heavy downpour.
The onion farmers from Nashik started the 200-km trek to Mumbai to flag their demands after a steep fall in prices. They are demanding an immediate financial relief of Rs 600 per quintal. There are other demands: Those from tribal communities want land rights and everyone wants uninterrupted power supply for 12 hours and a waiver of agriculture loans.
On Day Five of their trek today, many were seen hobbling after their shoes gave out. Unable to find any shoe stores on the highway that snakes through miles and miles of farmland, they plodded on cracked and callused feet, determined not to give up.
The march, organised by the CPM, has gained in strength with the addition of many working in the unorganised sector and members of tribal communities.
The ruling BJP-Sena government has taken notice. Earlier today, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis met a delegation of farmers and later said the talks were positive.
“There will be a statement on this in the Legislature (on Friday),” Mr Shinde told reporters.
Last night, the government had rushed ministers Dada Bhuse and Atul Save to hold a discussion with the farmers after they Thane district, next door to state capital Mumbai.