A slew of farmers from as many as 21 districts of Maharashtra have assembled at Mumbai's expansive Azad Maidan to begin their sit-in for three days, in order to register their protest and intensify their agitation against the new farm laws that were enacted in September last year.
Former Union agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, along with state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, are expected to address the massive gathering today. Last month Pawas issued a warning and said the centre should not test farmers' patience.
The protesting farmers in Mumbai have joined forces under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The farmers who entered Mumbai yesterday join other organisations who are partaking in the agitation. They will join forces under the Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha that began yesterday morning.
The rally comes as a response to the nationwide call by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), who is leading the farmers' agitation at Delhi borders, to intensify protests from January 23 to 26.
The public meeting at Azad Maidan is expected to start at 11 am and go on till 2 pm, which will be addressed by top leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi in the state, AIKS national general secretary Hannan Mollah, along with other political leaders. After which the group will march to Raj Bhavan to hand the governor a memorandum against the new farm laws. AIKS claims that almost 50,000 farmers are expected to take part in the agitation.
Over 15,000 farmers belonging to AIKS Maharashtra began their march on foot down a seven-kilometre long stretch, from the Kasara Ghat joining Nashik and Thane districts, at 9 am. The march comprised of a large number of women and youth farmers, and ended at 11:30 am.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several border points of Delhi since November 28 last year, demanding a repeal of these laws.
Multiple rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions have failed to break the impasse so far, while the Supreme Court has appointed a panel for resolution.