50,000 farmers protest bullet train, expressway

Upset by loss of livelihoods, unfulfilled promises

May 04, 2018 12:35 am | Updated 12:35 am IST

 Rural dissent:  Farmers at a public meeting at Dahanu beach after a long march from Sagar Naka to Para Naka on Thursday.

Rural dissent: Farmers at a public meeting at Dahanu beach after a long march from Sagar Naka to Para Naka on Thursday.

Mumbai: The 1.5 kilometres from Sagar Naka to Paar Naka in Dahanu was a river of red on Thursday. More than 50,000 farmers from over 60 villages in the Thane-Palghar district in red caps and sari, waving red flags, protested against the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and the Mumbai-Vadodara expressway and the loss of over 1000 acres of agricultural land and houses. The rally was followed by a public meeting at Dahanu beach.

Addressing the protesters, Ashok Dhawale, president of the All India Kisan Sabha, said that the projects would do no good to the villagers. Calling the government’s move an act of ‘privatisation,’ he said, “There was no point in the freedom fighters struggling for the country's independence if its citizens were to live according to the overseas companies one day.”

Lahani Dauda, member of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, said that despite raising concerns about their survival, the government has ‘threatened’ the farmers with clearing the areas by forcing them out. Barkya Mangat, secretary of the CPI(M), Palghar district, said, “The farmers are agitated over the government’s inability to fulfil their needs.”

Mariam Dhawale, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association said, “Many policies have not yet been implemented.”

Amongst slogans criticising the BJP and RSS, the AIKS said they will not allow the government to carry on with the projects, and CPI(M) leaders pledged to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Palghar district by-election.

A ‘Doodh Andolan’ was also conducted in Nashik on Thursday to voice concern about low prices of milk and other products. The agitations followed one in Nashik 10 days ago.

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