The stretch from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament street in Delhi became a river of red on Wednesday, September 5, as a mammoth procession of farmers and workers wound its way through the route to press for a whole range of demands relating to better wages, employment, loan waiver and implementation of labour laws, among other things.
The rally was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India Kisan Sabha, and All India Agriculture Workers Union.
The farmers and workers demanded effective implementation of labour laws, waiver of farm loans, minimum wage of Rs 18,000 a month, more employment, recognition of one crore anganwadi and Accredited Social Health Activists as a workforce, among others, reported The Indian Express. Other demands include remunerative prices for farmers as per Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations and timely public procurement of produce.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) termed it a “historic rally” which “marks a new stage in the struggle of working people of India”. “This historic Kisan Mazdoor Rally signifies worker-peasant unity [and] organised resistance to [Narendra] Modi govt’s neo-liberal policies as well as communal and casteist agenda,” the party tweeted.
Police arrangements were tight and the Delhi Traffic Police issued a traffic advisory in view of the rally.
Remarkably, despite the large numbers, the gathering remained orderly. The protestors started arriving in the national capital from across the country on Tuesday and were camping at Ramlila Maidan. Protestors who participated in the Kisan March in Maharashtra in March demanding a loan waiver and proper minimum support price for farmers are also taking part in the rally, The Wire reported.
A four-member team of the Delhi government’s Mobile Health Scheme have been providing painkillers, diarrhoea medicines, and pills for cold and fever to the protesters. “From 10 am to 5 pm, we have treated 699 people,” said Dr Vineet Kumar Sahu, a medical officer.
More than one lakh farmers and workers from across the country, according to the AIKS, were to start coming into Delhi on September 2 and Ramlila Maidan was where the AIKS had planned to put them up.
On the eve of the workers’ and farmers’ march to parliament, around 30,000 people were inside the Ramlila Maidan, the rains adding to their problems.
The workers and peasants began their march from Ramlila Maidan at 9 am on September 5. The march culminated at Parliament Street.
The key demands of the march are:
- Curb price rise; universalise Public Distribution System; ban forward trading in essential commodities
- Concrete measures for generation of decent employment
- Minimum wage of not less than Rs 18000 per month for all workers
- Stop anti worker labour law amendments
- Remunerative price for the peasants as per Swaminathan Committee recommendations; ensure public procurement
- Debt waiver for poor peasants and agricultural workers
- Comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers
- Implementation of MGNREGA in all rural areas; amendment to the Act to cover urban areas
- Food security, health, education, housing for all
- Universal social security
- No contractorisation
- Redistributive land reforms
- Stop forcible land acquisition
- Relief and rehabilitation for the victims of natural calamities
- Reverse neoliberal policies