Mumbai: Over 10,000 Farmers Gather At Azad Maidan For Rally Against Farm Laws,

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Mrunal Jadhav

Mumbai, January 25, 2021: A rally has been organised today at Azad Maidan in Mumbai against the three agricultural laws of the central government. Thousands of farmers from different areas of Maharashtra have reached Mumbai to participate in this rally.

Police have made special preparations for the security of Azad Maidan and its surrounding areas in South Mumbai and the deployment of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) personnel, along with the use of drones.

The Maharashtra branch of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) issued a statement claiming that around 15,000 farmers from Nashik have left for Mumbai on Saturday. According to the statement, the rally will be addressed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar and some prominent leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). The Congress party in the state government has already supported this rally.

AIKS said that farmers from different areas gathered in Nashik and left for Mumbai on Saturday, adding more farmers on the way during the march. According to the statement, the farmers who travelled to Mumbai took a halt at Ghatna Devi near Igatpuri for the rest of the night. On Sunday morning the farmers left for Mumbai via Kasara Ghat. Several women farmers also participated in the seven-kilometre long march to Kasara Ghat. The march began at nine in the morning and ended at 11:30 am, later the farmers set out on their further journey through vehicles.

The Kasara Ghat march was led by AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale and state unit chief Kisan Gujjar and general secretary Ajit Navale. Factory workers of Igatpuri and Shahpur tehsils associated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) welcomed these farmers with flowers. Farmers were also welcomed at the Kalyan-Bhiwandi crossing and food packets were distributed. The farmers entered Mumbai via the Mulund check post. This is the route from Thane to enter Mumbai. They were welcomed by hundreds of left-wing activists in Kannamwar town of Vikhroli.

The farmers then proceeded to Azad Maidan where they would participate in a dharna protest organized under the banner of United Shetkari Kamgar Morcha (SSKM) which would continue till Republic Day.

The statement further states, “This rally is being held in support of the farmers who have been protesting for two months around Delhi demanding the withdrawal of agricultural laws, guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) and purchase of crops across the country.”

It is noteworthy that the pro-farmer organization United Kisan Morcha has called for protests across the country, including before the Raj Bhavan in the states from 23 January to 26 January. Under this, around 100 organizations from Maharashtra formed the Joint Shetkari Kamgar Morcha in a meeting held in Mumbai on 12 January. According to the statement, besides Sharad Pawar, State Congress President and Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray will also address the rally at Azad Maidan.

The protesters will then march towards the Raj Bhavan and submit a memorandum to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. According to the statement, the protesters have decided to take an oath to hoist the Tiranga (tricolour) at Azad Maidan on January 26 and make the struggle of farmers and workers successful.

A police officer said that security of the area has been increased in view of the rally. He informed that along with the deployment of SRPF personnel at Azad Maidan, monitoring will also be done with drones. And additionally, 100 officers and 500 constables have been deployed at the rally venue.