Protesting farmers reach Mumbai, traffic woes loom

Thousands of farmers reach Mumbai, to surround assembly

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers stage protest in Mumbai

The farmers chose to march overnight to reach Mumbai's Azad Maidan early today to avoid any inconvenience to the children sitting for their exam today.

The journey which started from CBS Chowk, Nashik on March 5 is expected to end at the Vidhan Bhavan here on March 12.

In June 2017, similar protests had boiled over most parts of the state, forcing the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government to announce a conditional Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver, which farmers said has not been implemented properly. Moreover, one round of farmers' protests had already taken place in June past year, culminating in the announcement of a loan waiver, and with recent figures indicating an 8.3 per cent drop in the agriculture sector, the fresh protests are likely to put the BJP in a further bind.

The farmers, who have for the past six days been on a long-march from Nashik in north Maharashtra to Mumbai, made their way from Thane to Somaiya Grounds, north-central Mumbai, where they halted for the night.

The police warned that citizens should brace for the traffic snarls as they could experience "some inconvenience" along the march route, especially considering that the Board exams for HSC, SSC, ICSE, and ISC are underway, TOI reported.

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Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, "We have one day to talk to the protesters and we will not let this protest hamper the everyday life of Mumbaikars". The protest has embarrassed the BJP-led state government, which claimed to take various measures to tackle farmers' crisis. Team of State Reserve Police Force and Riot Control Force also deployed. The Maharashtra government had requested the farmers to withdraw their stir, but the farmers have refused to do so.

Maharashtra has been seeing multiple farmer agitations, said media reports The Nationalist Congress Party, led by Sharad Pawar, has also been holding agitations against the state government. The farmers want a complete waiver of their loans and tribals want lands rights, which they are eligible under the Forest Rights Act.

"I haven't had any discussions with any of the leaders of the protest march".

MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray met the farmers yesterday. "While we believe that the number of protesters would grow on Monday", an IPS officer said.

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