Maharashtra Farmers Call Off Protest After Meeting CM Fadnavis

Thousands of farmers reach Mumbai, to surround assembly

Maharashtra Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan said, "We've had a positive meeting with farmers in which all their demands were discussed".

According to sources, Chief Minister Fadnavis assured a delegation of the farmer leaders that the issue of ownership rights of forest patches would be resolved within six months.

The main demand on the farmers' list includes an unconditional loan waiver and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years.

The farmers, the bulk of them impoverished, plan to surround the state legislature of the western state of Maharashtra in Mumbai.

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"Today, if the farmers' demands are not conceded, they will shake up the state and the Centre and remove the government and install a government of their choice which will stand by the farmers' cause", Yechury said.

In what may snowball into another controversy, BJP MP Poonam Majahan called the protesting farmers "urban Maoists".

The government has been receptive to their demands and the state CM admitted that "About 90 to 95 per cent are poor tribals who are fighting to protect their forest land and rights".

Thousands of women farmers marched into Mumbai alongside their male peers on Monday demanding the government recognizes their rights over forests and stops the takeover of land for industrial projects. A few of them todday threatened to give up food if the government refuses to give them in writing that their demands would be met. Participants in the march had reached Azad Maidan early on Monday morning, having walked from Chunabhatti's Somaiya Maidan in the wee hours to avoid disrupting traffic and affecting students headed for their SSC exams. Seeing the elderly amongst them with calloused feet, I can not preach about motivation. Farmer leaders have called the statement a lie, accusing the government of trying to "discredit" the protest.

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"If it continues to dilly-dally on the farm loans waiver or try to take us for a ride, it will face the consequences", Nawale told reporters late on Sunday.

The state government has set up a six-member committee to look into the demands.

Residents showering the farmers with flowers from a walkway near Mulund.

All major political parties supported the agitation, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi terming it "an unprecedented show of strength", and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Fadnavis to shed their ego and concede the farmers' legitimate demands.

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Political analyst and writer Patrick Gathara said such a dialogue is still needed despite Friday's meeting. The truce comes months after Kenyans went to two violent elections in the last quarter of 2017.

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