Mumbai shows its best face to farmers

Dabbawalas  and others lend a hand

By TT Bureau in Mumbai
  • Published 13.03.18
KISAN POWER: Farmers at the site of a protest rally in Mumbai on Monday. (AFP)

Mumbai: The dabbawalas of Mumbai and other residents stepped forward to provide food and water to the thousands of farmers who walked for six days to reach here from Nashik.

The farmers walked up to the Azad Maidan in south Mumbai early on Monday morning as a part of the "Long March" to press for demands such as the Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme.

Subhash Talekar, the spokesperson for the Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said: "We thought about helping the farmers with food as they are our food-providers and have come from remote parts of the state."

"We asked our men working between Dadar and Colaba to collect food and deliver it to our farmer brothers at the Azad Maidan," he said.

Dabbawalas, the tiffin-carriers known for their efficient delivery service, provided food to the protesters as a part of their Roti Bank initiative.

According to Talekar, the Mumbai Roti Bank, of which the dabbawalas are an integral part, deploys GPS-tracked vans to collect excess food from eateries, hotels, public functions and households so that it can be distributed to the poor.

Other Mumbaikars were also seen offering vada-pav and other snacks and water to the farmers on Sunday night.

 A farmer being given medical treatment at Azad Maidan during the march in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)

Industrialist Anand Mahindra tweeted: "Mondays are a time to share quotes about motivaton to get to work. Over 35K farmers have walked for days to get to Mumbai. We Mumbaikars are fed by them.... Seeing the elderly amongst them with calloused feet, I cannot preach about motivation. Their determination is enough of an example."

Several political parties like the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had extended their support to the protesting farmers.

Mumbai police had beefed up security ahead of the march, expecting more farmers from the outskirts of the city to join the 35,000-strong rally.

"Some more farmers are expected to join the march from neighbouring districts. The police personnel are on their toes and prepared enough to maintain law and order," Deven Bharti, the joint-commissioner of police (crime), told PTI in the morning.

"The march has came all the way peacefully to the country's financial capital," Bharti said, adding that the police hope to disperse the protesters also in a peaceful manner.

Since the farmers entered the city limits on Sunday, heavy security was deployed all along their route, he said.

The cultivators had earlier planned to move to their destination in the morning but they reached the Azad Maidan in the early hours to ensure that students appearing for their board exams were not hassled due to traffic jams, said Ashok Dhawale, president of the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which organised the protest. PTI