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Over 5,000 farmers from Maharashtra will kickstart a vehicle march from Nashik to Delhi at 3.00pm on Monday, to join the farmers protesting at the borders of the national capital since the past three weeks. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) will flag off the March with a public meeting in Nashik at 1.30pm.

Farmers from 20 districts of the state will gather at Nashik and travel 1,266 kilometres to Delhi and join the protests at the Rajasthan-Haryana border on December 24.

Ashok Dhawale, president, AIKS, said in the statement, “The vehicle jatha will begin with a massive public meeting at Nashik at 1.30pm. About 5,000 farmers will join this meeting and participate in the vehicle march. Most of them will accompany us till the Maharashtra border. Thereafter, 2,000 or so farmers will continue to travel to Delhi.” The vehicle march will be met by farmers at Ozar, Pimpalgaon Baswant, Chandwad, Umrane, Malegaon, and Shirpur and Dhule districts of Maharashtra before entering Madhya Pradesh.

The purpose of organising this march is to counter the government’s argument that only farmers from Punjab and Haryana are affected by the three laws, and that this is not a pan-India protest. Dhawale said, “The government is running a propaganda that whatever is happening in Delhi is only because of farmers from Punjab and Haryana. When thousands of farmers from Maharashtra will travel around 1,300 kilometres to participate in the protest, it will effectively counter the government’s argument.”

The massive farmers’ protest was set off by the three farm laws pushed through Parliament by the government in September. These allow agribusinesses to trade with minimal regulation, permit traders to stockpile large quantities of food commodities for economies of scale and lay down new contract farming rules. Farmers say the new rules favour big corporations to whom they will lose business, gut the mandi system and gradually end the regime of minimum support prices (MSP) that acts as a protective net for cultivators.