Mumbai (The Hindu): If a huge number of people decided to walk together in procession down one of Mumbai’s arterial roads on any working day, the city would grind to a halt.
The farmer’s morcha, however, resulted in no disturbances. This was the result of talks with the farmers, and their prompt agreement to comply with police suggestions.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, “We impressed upon the protesters the importance of the exams and traffic problems, as it was the first day of the week for office goers.”
“Once we were made aware of the exams on Monday and the other concerns, we considered it our moral responsibility to not cause any inconvenience to our fellow citizens. Doubtless, a lot of our farmer brethren were tired after Sunday’s march but they all unanimously agreed,” Ajit Navale, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha said.
The approximately 20,000 protesters (as per police estimates) altered their plan: instead of doing the last leg of their long march to Vidhan Bhavan during the day, they got a few hours rest on Sunday evening and began their walk at 2 a.m. on Monday, reaching Azad Maidan before most of the city got out of bed.
In a city where supporters of political parties have enforced bandhs and strikes with threats — and often, actual violence — this came as a pleasant surprise. Mumbai residents worried about getting to work or school and college (there were two State board SSC exams scheduled for the day) went about their routines with only normal traffic congestion to worry about.
Citizens filled social media platforms with messages of support and thanks for not breaking the law, and photographs of the farmers, travel-stained and weary, patiently awaiting the government’s response. Some people offered to collect food and water for the agitators. Some political and non-government groups distributed food at Azad Maidan, but the day also saw numerous informal groups visiting to distribute food, water, and footwear. Girish Satamkar, a mass media student, who with his friends and Sahil Rajput was distributing water said, “We have been following the issues of the farmers in the news, and wanted to witness the protest. We decided to pick up something for them so that we could do our part for them. We brought as many bottles as we could carry.”
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