‘Meherbani nakko! Hakk Havet.’
‘No favors, we want our rights.’
On 6 March, about 20,000 farmers from Maharashtra mobilized by CPI (M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) began their 200-km march to Mumbai from Nashik. The plan was to indefinitely gherao the Assembly while the Budget session was on and demand immediate resolution of the life-and-death issues facing farmers. The march swelled to around 35,000 farmers as they walked in the heat for six days and reached Mumbai on March 11.
The farmers received enormous support from all sections of society. To avoid inconveniencing students who had an exam that day, the farmers walked overnight to Azad Maidan. News, photos and videos of the Long March trended on social media. Mainstream news outlets were forced to cover the march. With an outpouring of support and sympathy from the public at large, the opposition parties – and BJP ally Shiv Sena – came out in support of farmers’ demands. The BJP government had no option. It had to buckle and concede all the demands of the farmers, and agree to a timetable for their implementation.
It has been a stupendous victory – from despair and suicide, farmers have crossed over to hope and struggle. The pattern is repeated in many parts of the country – apart from Maharashtra, there have been big struggles in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, etc. And the list is growing.
- In this video for NewsClick, AIKS leaders explain their key demands.
- When the march began, none of the major media outlets were on the ground. But PARI fellow Parth M.N. was. Here’s his beautiful photo-essay, which opened the way for mainstream outlets to follow.
- Subodh Varma, in a piece for NewsClick explains the ‘How and Why of Farmers’ Long March to Mumbai’.
- This piece in Scroll.in brings out the individual narratives from the Long March.
- Adivasi farmers explain why they walked 180 km for forest land rights.
- ‘I Walked 40 Km with the Farmers in Maharashtra, Here’s What I Learnt.’ Ayush Dubey, a student from Pune, writes about his experience of marching with the farmers.
- How Mumbai residents welcomed farmers marching through the city.
- ‘A number of artists showed their solidarity to the cause by creating art works exclusively for the Long March.’ In this piece at Indian Cultural Forum, see how artists responded to the Kisan Long March.
- The march reached Mumbai on Sunday. This is the time when it started getting attention from national as well as the international media. Karnika Kohli, writes in The Wire about the reporting of the March in the newspapers on Monday.
- ‘Alt News exposé: An attempt to build online public opinion against farmers’ long march.’
- A report in The Hindu: ‘Government agrees to demands, farmers withdraw protest.’ Also, a Facebook video on NewsClick after the meeting of the farmers’ delegation led by AIKS with the Devendra Fadnavis government got over. In this video, the representatives of the farmers and the government updated the situation. The update was ‘victory’.
- ‘Photos: The Long March under the blazing sun left farmers drained – but kept their mobiles charged.’
- Who were the leaders of the march? NewsClick profiles the four main leaders of the march.
- ‘Meet JNU Alumnus Vijoo Krishnan, Man Who Inspired 50,000 Farmers to March 180-km.’
The protesting farmers did not materialize out of thin air. AIKS has worked among them for decades. Here is a recent book from LeftWord, authored by Prof. Archana Prasad, on the history of the kisan movement in the Thane region, near Mumbai.