The left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) will be spearheading a big agitation on Thursday to protest against the Centre and the Delhi Police’s ‘repressive actions’ against farmers protesting the contentious farm laws.
“This agitation will be a jolt to the Centre. A number of farmer and labour outfits will be joining the protests… We will be staging rasta rokos (roadblocks) across Maharashtra in solidarity of our protesting colleagues in Delhi,” said Dr. Ajit Nawale, State Secretary, AIKS, adding that the decision to hold a State-wide protest on Thursday had been taken after a meeting of the ‘All India Farmers’ Struggle Coordinating Committee.’
This is another step to intensify the ongoing nationwide agitation against the anti-farmer policies of the Central government, said Dr. Nawale.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Centre is clearly trying to suppress the ongoing farmers’ agitation at the Delhi border. The police are harassing protesters by lobbing tear gas, spraying water-cannons on the farmers and arresting farmers’ leaders. Despite this, thousands of farmers have been defiantly protesting on the Delhi border for the last four days. Hence, our agitation is to ramp up the pressure on the indifferent Modi government to force them to repeal anti-farmer laws,” he said.
The agitation is to comprise a ‘grand march’ on every District Collectorate and tehsil office in Maharashtra, along with the blocking of roads.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shetti’s SSS activists already staged a series of street protests in western Maharashtra and certain districts of Marathwada. In Sangli, a brief melee broke out between a group of SSS activists and police personnel.
“We will not allow any Union Minister to set foot in Maharashtra unless the Central government seriously addresses the concerns of farmers. With the rushed passage of these new ‘anti-farmer’ laws, the tillers of the soil are more vulnerable to corporate caprice and big business,” Mr. Shetti said.
The State Congress unit has announced its support for the farmer’s agitation by staging a parallel State-wide protest of their own.
“Farmers across the country are outraged by the oppressive agriculture laws imposed by the Centre. The farmers have reached Delhi demanding their repeal and will not back down till the demands are met. The Congress party will hold a State-wide agitation on Thursday in support,” said Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief and State Revenue Minister, Balasaheb Thorat.
Mr. Thorat said the Congress had been opposing the anti-farmer laws of the BJP government from the very beginning, holding tractor rallies and signature campaigns in the last two months.
“While the BJP is saying that these laws are in the interest of the farmers, it is obvious from the protests that farmers think otherwise. They have no belief in the BJP’s rhetoric and its deeds,” he said.