Exclusive: With Cracked Soles, Bleeding Feet, Maharashtra Farmers March On

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Cracked soles, swollen feet and many companions hospitalised – farmers marching from Nashik to Mumbai are braving all odds to continue their agitation for relief to onion growers and several other demands.As the 200-km march entered its fifth day today, NDTV spoke to some of the farmers during a short break in their long, arduous journey.Most of them had deep cracks on their soles. Some of them had wrapped cloth in their sandals after the leather edges started stinging.Asked if she will rest for a bit, an elderly woman said, “No, I will keep on walking for our demands.”Ambulances had been called in for those feeling unwell. One of the farmers sitting in an ambulance broke down. He said he was not feeling well and that his feet were hurt after his slippers tore. He said he has money but could not find any store he could buy slippers at. Others said they were feeling dizzy and weak.The march has been organised by the CPM and besides farmers, many workers in the unorganised sector and and members of tribal communities have joined it.The farmers have a long list of demands, including an immediate financial relief of Rs 600 per quintal to onion growers who have been hit hard by a steep fall in prices. Many of the farmers are from tribal communities and are demanding land rights. Also on the list of demands is uninterrupted electricity supply for 12 hours and a waiver of agriculture loans.The Maharashtra government has reached out to the farmers. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, his deputy Devendra Fadnavis and other senior ministers will meet them today. Two ministers, Dada Bhuse and Atul Save, have already held a meeting with farmers’ representatives after the march entered Thane last night.