Farmers leave Mumbai after woman protester unfurls tricolour

MUMBAI: Thousands of cultivators, who had arrived here from parts of Maharashtra to protest against the Centre’s farm laws, left for their homes on Tuesday after an elderly woman agitator hoisted the national flag at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai.

To mark the Republic Day, the flag hoisting was held at the ground in south Mumbai at around 9.30 am following which the protesters headed towards their native places, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said.

The farmers held a rally at the Azad Maidan on Monday to express solidarity with peasants agitating near Delhi borders against the Centre’s three new farm laws.

NCP president Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil and various farmers’ representatives had attended the rally on Monday.

Around 15,000 farmers had arrived in the state capital for the rally, the Maharashtra unit of the AIKS earlier said.

“The flag hoisting ceremony was held at the Azad Maidan on Tuesday morning. After that, farmers headed towards their homes. The movement is in line with what we had decided earlier,” AIKS president Ashok Dhawale told PTI over phone.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a pro-farmer body, had given a nationwide call for a struggle from January 23 to 26, including rallies to Raj Bhavans (Governor Houses) in states.

Accordingly, the protesters in Mumbai took out a march towards the Raj Bhavan hereafter the public meeting at Azad Maidan on Monday.

However, police stopped the protesters mid-way.

A delegation of farmers was to meet and submit a memorandum to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

But, after they learnt that the governor was in Goa on Monday, the farmers’ leaders accused Koshyari of not meeting them despite giving an appointment himself.

The leaders charged Koshyari with “running away” to Goa and “insulting” farmers by not being in the Raj Bhavan to accept their memorandum, copies of which they later tore to condemn the governor’s action.

The Raj Bhavan on Monday dismissed the claims and said Koshyari, who is also the governor of Goa, left for the neighbouring coastal state to address its Assembly, the five- day session of which began on Monday.

The Raj Bhavan also said representatives of the Samyukta Shetkari Morcha were informed in advance that the governor would not be able to meet the delegation on Monday as he would be in Goa to address its Assembly.