MUMBAI: A day after a mob of 2,000 farmers and physically challenged people laid siege to CST, security agencies registered criminal cases against them and are scrutinizing footage from CCTV cameras to identify the accused.
The RPF has booked the protestors under the Indian Railway Act for trespass, obstructing the running of trains, obstructing railway employees in their duties, drunkenness or nuisance and endangering safety of commuters. The GRP has also booked the protestors for unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint. A probe is on and no arrests have been made yet, said officials.Now this is interesting. Whatever “obstruction” the farmers did at CST did not hit Twitter. I know, because I was checking. I find this impossible to believe that people getting inconvenienced at Mumbai’s largest train station would not generate whines on Twitter, when the smallest train delays will do it anyway. In fact, the only news on the subject came from DNA reporter Rajendra Aklekar, who seems to exclusively cover trains, tweeting a photo or two. Incidentally, he mentions a few hundred farmers, which makes a lot more sense and is supported by his photograph than two thousand farmers that nobody noticed. All photos from his timeline.
[Update: I later found an Asian Age article as well as a few first person accounts that paints a drastically different picture. Apparently the several thousand people from various organizations including Prahar Vidyarthi Sanghatana (PVS) that organised the protest and Apang Kranti Andolan, led by independent MLA Bachoo Kadu protested at Azad Maidan since morning. After being ignored, they decided to move to the streets and CST station, intending a protest by staying there till they were assured of attention. Attention rapidly followed, with the Chief Minister agreeing to fulfill their demands. The “take over” of the station was no more than 45 minutes at most, though traffic snarls on the street lasted longer. The day being a National Holiday is probably why it didn’t seem to get noticed on Twitter, with most offices being closed anyway. The protests were peaceful and police too were restrained considering the large numbers of handicapped people in the crowd. This makes the police investigation of CCTV footage to identify people who led the protest even stranger, since the organizations responsible were clearly named, led by an MLA and in communication with the CM and another MLA Ahir.]I want to accuse upfront that Maharashtra Government hates farmers because of their audacity to die and suffer drought openly, thus exposing the governments utter colonization of the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Times of India has long written fiction discrediting farmers protests in favor of Monsanto – the seeds sold by which had been extensively promoted to farmers by government organizations in spite of the fact that they need more cotton to thrive, while the government itself has been the biggest contributor to the destruction of availability of water in the region, while also depriving the people of a decade worth irrigation development that got paid and only bumped up project costs without delivering. In fact, Sharad Pawar’s comment on a day when four farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha was “I don’t see problems in this region being as terrible as [they are] made out to be.” One wonders why if water scarcity is not so terrible, he flat out refused to reduce water allocations to sugar factories and make someone else bear the “not so terrible” for a while. He had flat out refused to even consider reducing industries, sugarcane farming and sugar factories that consume insane amounts of water in the middle of the worst drought the region had seen. I have no idea what the farmers were protesting, but God knows they have plenty to protest about when it comes to their conditions in Maharashtra. For example, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra (incidentally installed as a “clean of corruption” option) has done an Indian Sign Language to be formally included in curriculums and recognized as an Indian language as per this photo. Demands in this poster by the Marathwada Deaf Dumb Sports Club and Association are:
- Teaching Indian Sign Language on primary level.
- Indian Sign Language should be formally recognized as a language of India
- Deaf Dumb people should be allowed to drive vehicles.
- Empty government posts reserved for the deaf and dumb with 100% handicap must be filled.
- Job opportunities in the private sector should be created for deaf and dumb people through the Companies Act.
- Families with deaf and dumb members should be given 12 gas cylinders a year.