New Delhi, June 2: As the nationwide strike called by farmers enters day 2 today, its impact is likely to be felt in cities like Delhi NCR and Mumbai. Farmers from agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana also joined the ten-day protest call given by various farmer organisations in different states, dumping their produce, milk and other food items on the roads. The states where the protests are being held are: Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala though PTI said farmers in Uttar Pradesh have also joined in. (Also Read: Protest Turns Violent in Jaipur, Police Resort to Lathicharge)
Cans full of milk were spilled on streets and tomatoes were dumped on a highway near Nashik, Maharashtra. Similar reports were received from Faridkot, Sangrur, Hoshiarpur and other places in Punjab and a few places in Haryana. Several farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district also participated. “We will not be selling milk, vegetables and grains in the urban areas as milk and tomato are being sold at very low rates,” Sanjiv Tyagi from the Bharatiya Kisan Union said. “Farmers are not getting proper price for sugarcane. We also demand that the farmers should get 50 percent profit on the cost incurred on crops by them,” he said.
According to NDTV.com, on Friday there was no supply in Punjab except for Amritsar. In Haryana, the supply was reduced by 40-50 percent. Milk supply was stopped in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu. In Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, prices of vegetables were up by 400 percent and in Bhopal by 70-80 percent. Of the 300 trucks of produce that it gets every day, Nashik mandi saw only three trucks on Friday.
The protesting farmers, under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), are demanding immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report on farming, a minimum support price to farmers for their produce, waiving of loans and helping farmers make agriculture cost-effective. BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal said the farmers were forced to start the protest as the Central government was not helping the community. The protest has been named ‘Gaon Bandh’. Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh president Shiv Kumar Sharma was quoted as saying, “We won’t go to cities, as we don’t want to disturb the normal lives of the people.”
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Kisan Manch (a farmers’ outfit) has distanced itself from the bandh call. “There was no response of the bandh call in Lucknow and adjoining districts. There is no point in telling the farmers to throw their agriculture produce on the streets, as they had put in their labour and hard work to produce the crops,” Shekhar Dixit, the president of the Rashtriya Kisan Manch told PTI.
The protest also marks the first death anniversary of six farmers who were killed in police firing in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur on June 6 last year. “The government responds to the rightful demands of the farmers with lathis and bullets. June 6 is a black day for farmers,” Aam Kisan Union chief Kedar Sirohi was quoted in reports as saying. Mandsaur saw farmers’ protest last year when hundreds of farmers demanded better prices for their crops and loan waivers. The protests turned violent forcing the police to open fire to control the crowd which led to the death of six farmers. This year, the Mandsaur district administration isn’t taking chances and had made some farmers even sign surety bonds that they would not resort to violence, said IANS.
In Bhopal, Home Minister Rajnath Singh dubbed the protest as an agitation of the Congress, said IANS. “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state is working for the welfare of farmers and it has taken several big decisions in their interest,” he said. Rubbishing his charge, MP Congress chief Kamal Nath said it was surprising that those who ordered firing at the farmers were trying to shift the blame for the violence. A few months ago, at least 35,000 farmers from Nashik had walked 180 km up to Mumbai to press for their demands. They called off their strike only after an assurance from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that their demands would be looked into. Those farmers are also supporting the nationwide Gaon Bandh.