Farmers’ march: Outpouring of local support at Azad Maidan -
Farmers’ march: Outpouring of local support at Azad Maidan
Posted 13 Mar 2018 11:24 AM

Public and private parties as well as empathic individuals arrived at the Azad Maidan on Monday to provide support to the thousands of farmers gathered in the city. The farmers, who set out on their march six days back, were given food, drink, medical care and even footwear for their weary feet that had walked over 180 km from Nashik to Mumbai.

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, two ambulances with doctors were provided to cater to dehydration cases and foot injuries. In addition, 60 mobile toilets were stationed and four tankers of drinking water were provided to the protesting farmers.

Doctors from JJ hospital said they handled over 1,000 farmers, of which 650 suffered minor foot injuries, body ache and leg pain, close to 200 suffered dehydration, and 150 suffered from hypoglycemia and respiratory infection. Doctors dressed minor injuries of over 200 farmers.

Nirmala Nathan, 50, and Sabiha Khan, 46, were two individuals who recognised the need for proper footwear for the marchers. “My sister and I work closely with the unorganised sector. We collected about 50 pairs of sandals from our neighbourhood women in Colaba and have distributed it to those in need here,” said Nirmala.

The only pair of slippers Anjubai Gangaram Kanuje, 63, owned had broken along the way from Nashik after serving her for a year, and she was grateful for a new pair.

Sabiha, who runs a travel agency in Crawford Market, said, “We saw that people had already taken care of food and water here, but people also really needed chappals to get back home.”

Software developer Vaishali Bhalerao, under the guidance of JJ Hospital medical officer Dr Rewat Kaninde, spent the day distributing sanitary pads to the few young women in the crowd, demonstrating their proper use and disposal. “Our youth volunteers have been here since 7 am distributing tea, biscuits, vada pav and water to the protesters. We have partnered with JJ Hospital and St George Hospital and we have transport services on stand-by,” said Pandurang Sakpal, presdient, Shiv Sena South.

B S Baarth is an advocate who volunteers at the international NGO Khalsa Aid. He and a fellow volunteer arrived from Punjab on Monday morning and came straight to the scene.

“We’re assessing what is needed and we’ll mobilise the local volunteers to provide support to the farmers. The most pressing need right now, in this heat, is water. We are ordering 10,000 glasses of water and then we’ll assess what else we can do to help,” says Baarth.

The dabbawallas of Mumbai too played their part in helping the farmers. Spokesperson Subash Talekar said, “Usually the parties call us when there is a need like this. Today they didn’t call us but we decided to help anyway. We decided to pitch in from our side and delivered 500 plates of pav bhaji to the people at the morcha”.

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