Farmers, labourers hold protest; Plans Long March in Nov

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New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Thousands of farmers, labourers and government employees from across the country on Wednesday marched from the Ramlila Maidan to Parliament to protest against the “anti-people policies” of the Modi government and decided to hold a ‘Long March’ to the national capital in November.

The ‘Long March’ will be held from a place some 100 km from Delhi to Parliament, on the lines of the ‘Nashik-Mumbai Long March’ that was held earlier in 2018.

The Left-affiliated organisations — the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) — which organised the six-hour-long rally, said the government had worked against the interests of farmers, labourers and its employees in order to benefit the corporate and private companies.

The protesters have put 15 demands before the government. They have asked for Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops as per Swaminathan Commission, curbing price rise, universalising the Public Distribution System, employment creation, minimum wage of not less than Rs 18,000 per month and a ban on labour law amendments.

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Debt waiver, redistributive land reforms, ban on forcible land acquisition, reversing neo-liberal policies, and a ban on ‘contract’ employment are among other demands.

“The Modi government’s policies have been anti-farmer, anti-poor, anti-people. In fact, they are beneficial to big companies and corporate. In order to apprise our countrymen of the situation, we are going to hold the ‘Long March’ from November 27 to 30,” AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah said while addressing the protesters at Parliament Street, where the rally culminated.

The Long March in Maharashtra had created ripples in the corridors of power forcing the state government to give in writing its assurance to fulfil farmers’ demands.

Farmers and labourers across the country turned up for the Wednesday’s protest rally as they said their problems were not solved despite big announcements and promises by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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These farmers raised high-pitched slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and its policies throughout the protest.

Tapan Sarma from Assam said low wages for tea labourers in the state was the major issue besides high food prices.

“Earlier, there was Congress. Now, we have BJP government. But the situation has not changed a bit. Tea labourers are paid just Rs 137 per day when daily wages should be Rs 351,” Sarma said.

Among the protesters were farmers from Nashik, who had embarked on the Long March to Mumbai.

They said their issues were not resolved yet despite written assurance from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Parijata Gangurde, a landless farmer from Nashik, said: “Maharashtra government has not registered my land in my name though it had assured. So I have come to Delhi so that my voice reaches the central government.”

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The rally saw participation of other unions representing BSNL, Postal Department, teachers, Anganwadi and ASHA workers among others.

CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said the government had hurt the interest of government employees by taking up privatisation of Public Sector Units (PSUs).

“There are no ‘Acche Din’ (good days) for people. They are for the corporate. So we will have to continue our fight till we get justice,” Sen told the gathering.

AIKS President Ashok Dhawale criticised the government for providing loans and waiving the debts of corporate.

“The government does not have money to provide relief to debt-ridden farmers. But it has waived loans of corporate,” he said.

–IANS

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