Act of protest

‘Landless Adivasis’, ‘urban Maoism’, fake Twitter trends: BJP is still in denial on farmers’ plight

Adivasis or other landless agricultural workers, the BJP leaders seem to say, cannot be regarded as farmers.

A day after nearly 35,000 farmers reached Mumbai, walking 180 km from Nashik, the Maharashtra government started dissembling. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, while praising the protestors for their consideration in ensuring as little inconvenience to Mumbai as possible, said they were landless Adivasis, not farmers.

“Of all the adivasi issues, the most important is that of land,” Fadnavis said. “95% of them are landless and they need to get the rights to the forest land. That is why they are unable to become farmers.” He used the Marathi word “shetkari”, which can be literally translated as someone who possesses a farm.

Adivasi farmers might not possess titles to the land they have been tilling for decades. But that does not mean they are not farmers. One of their demands is that the land they are already cultivating be transferred to their names.

Meanwhile, Poonam Mahajan, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament too appeared to be dismissing the protest entirely as being orchestrated by what she called “urban Maoism”.

“Sadly in Maharashtra, tribals have been captured by urban Maoism,” Mahajan said, adding, “This cannot be misinterpreted. You have seen urban Maoism in many cities of India where they go to these districts which they call Naxal affected.”

Elsewhere on social media, a Google document with templates of messages of thanks purported to be from farmers to Devendra Fadnavis has been circulating, reported Pratik Sinha of AltNews.

One of the messages, in evident ignorance of Fadnavis’s Assembly speech that praised the marchers for their consideration for the city, said the march “will not only shatter peace, law & order in the city, but also increase pains of common people and farmers participating in the march under the aegis of AIKS [All India Kisan Sabha].”

Apart from the fact that there is no Naxal presence in Thane and Nashik, from where the marchers have come from, both Fadnavis and Mahajan seem to be saying that farmers are only dominant caste landowners, such as the Marathas who marched across the state to demand reservations and agricultural relief in a series of rallies culminating in Mumbai in August 2017, or the farmer strike of June 2017, which was also dominated by Marathas.

Adivasis or other landless agricultural workers, Fadnavis and Mahajan seem to say, cannot be regarded as farmers in their own right, with legitimate enough concerns to make them want to walk all the way to Mumbai of their own volition.

While the protestors in Mumbai are also demanding loan waivers, many of them are indeed demanding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, which allows for land up to four hectares to be granted to families that have traditionally cultivated those plots. The Indian Express’s collection of voices from the rally makes this clear.

With land in their names, these farmers will become eligible for institutional credit from banks. Only those who have taken credit from cooperative and nationalised banks are eligible for farm loan waivers. In June 2017, Maharashtra government announced a loan waiver of crop loans to farmers across the state.

But many farmers at the march, even those who have land titles and can access institutional credit, said the loan waiver had not yet reached them.

A total of 46.52 lakh farmers had been found eligible for the loan waiver and the state government had estimated the entire procedure would cost it Rs 34,022 crore. But so far, the government has distributed only Rs 13,580 crore to 35.32 lakh farmers, reported Firstpost.

The protestors also want electricity and water and secure access to the public distribution system as well, an indication of just how low public investment in rural infrastructure has become.

In the last five years itself, the All India Kisan Sabha, under whose flag the marchers walked to Mumbai, has organised protests in Nashik, Thane, Aurangabad and even outside the Vidhan Sabha. The All India Kisan Sabha also has a much longer history, particularly in Thane district, of demanding land rights for those who actually till the fields.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.