At least half a million farmers from several villages across Maharashtra began an indefinite strike on Thursday after talks with the government for loan waivers failed. Apart from waivers, they want free electricity, appropriate remuneration for their produce, irrigation grants, higher prices for milk and the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Committee recommendations.
This means the supply of essential items such as milk, fruits and vegetables to cities such as Mumbai and Pune is likely to be affected, according to Hindustan Times. MP Raju Shetti told IANS that Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and others may experience a severe shortage if the strike continues for more than two days. Farmers from Nashik district will not supply agricultural produce to Gujarat either.
The farmers had decided to go on strike on May 30 after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the representatives of the Kisan Kranti Morcha – a state-level coordination committee of various farmers’ outfits – that the government needed some time to decide. The chief minister had also urged them to postpone their agitation. “The chief minister explained his shortcomings, but we want immediate relief for the farmers,” Shantaram Kunjir, a farmers’ leader from Pune, told Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, stray incidents of violence marred the start of their protest. Protesting farmers in Nashik, Satara and Kohlapur reportedly emptied tankers of milk that were being transported to the cities and destroyed stocks of vegetables. The driver of a milk tanker was roughed up near Satara while stones were thrown at some vegetable and police vehicles near Nashik.