Maharashtra farmers' protest: Sporadic strikes create uncertainty; prices of vegetables rise

Though the farmers' strike that began on 1 June has been called off in Mumbai, some factions remained dissatisfied with the decision. The farmers had gone on strike demanding loan waivers and in protest against the construction of the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi expressway. However, confusion reined on the strike in rest of Maharashtra because of lack of consensus as they have been irregularly called off.

Milk being thrown as a sign of protest in Maharashtra. PTI

Milk being thrown as a sign of protest in Maharashtra. PTI

The strike had received mixed responses since the start, with Nashik and Ahmednagar responding well to the protest; however, it received a moderate response in Pune, Kolhapur, and Solapur, which were at the forefront of the strike, The Times of India reported. The report further mentioned that there was a rise in prices of vegetables. But the rise was due to the confusion over the strike and not due to the lack of supply.

According to the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, the strike continues in some parts of Maharashtra, reported Live Mint, whereas on Saturday, the Kisan Kranti Jan Andolan Samiti called the strike off in Ahmednagar district. Markets in Nashik and Ahmednagar districts remained closed for the fifth consecutive day, starting from 1 June.

Pune APMC joint secretary Arvind Jedhe said, “Arrival of fruits and vegetables is down by 65 percent. That is because protesting farmers have stopped vehicles headed to Pune APMC. But arrival of other commodities is almost normal." Jedhe was quoted as saying the Live Mint.

To pacify the farmers, social activist Anna Hazare supported the farmers, urging them to protest peacefully. Hazare added that he was ready to intervene on the farmers' behalf. However, no resolution could be arrived at "with the agitating farmers and their leaders," according to The Times of India.

News 18 reported that farmers' representatives met in Nashik on Sunday. In the meeting, several resolutions were passed, with one being "Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should implement the farmers' demands instead of just giving assurances."

With more meetings to be held on 7 and 8 June, Chandrakant Bankar, convener of the committee, urged more traders and transporters to participate in the protests, as per the report.

A farmer leader from Nashik also blamed the BJP government for sabotaging their protests. Hence, a bandh on Monday was held across protesting regions, except Mumbai.

The farmers, however, found support from the Shiv Sena who have been very "vocal about (their) disappointment over the BJP government on the farmers’ issues as well as on the delay in announcing the loan waiver," Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP, reportedly stated.

The Shiv Sena has severely criticised Fadnavis in its editorial, Saamana, mentioning that “The chief minister has been successful in creating doubts and suspicions about the farmers’ agitation. But attempting to break the protests is not a victory. It is a failure,” as reported by Hindustan Times.

The protests now seem to be heading in an uncertain direction, with political parties solely using the incident to gain mileage. The Times of India reported that the farmers indulged in violence and a section of them indulged in stone-pelting as well. Milk and vegetables were also thrown in various districts. But despite such wastage, talks with the chief minister have made no progress.

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 15:24 PM

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