Farmers across the country started a 10-day strike on Friday to demand better prices for their produce. They dumped vegetables, milk and other farm produce on roads and blocked supplies to cities in several states as part of their protest, PTI reported. Farmers also called for a boycott of mandis in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The strike is being held a year after farmer protests were held across the country. On June 6 last year, six farmers died during police firing in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur.
The strike is effective in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Chhattisgarh, News18 reported. Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh convenor Shiv Kumar Sharma said in Bhopal that the protest was being held across 22 states.
Farmers in Punjab’s Faridkot decided to hold back supplies such as vegetables, fruits and milk from being supplied to the cities, ANI reported. They demanded loan waivers and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations on providing minimum support prices and safeguarding the interests of small farmers.
Protests turned violent in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, though no injuries or casualties have yet been reported.
In Madhya Pradesh
“More than 130 farmers’ organisations are with us,” Shiv Kumar Sharma said. “This has now become a nationwide agitation. We have named the protest ‘Gaon Bandh’. We won’t go to cities, as we don’t want to heckle the normal lives of the people. We have decided to observe a Bharat Bandh on June 10 till 2 pm.” He said the state government had been trying to turn the protests violent, though many BJP leaders also have supported the demonstrations.
Local administrations have increased security arrangements in view of last year’s violence, particularly in Mandsaur which is now considered to be the epicentre of the agrarian agitation. Congress President Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to hold a rally in Pipliyamandi near Mandsaur to mark the death anniversary of the six farmers on June 6.
Neemuch District Collector Kaushlendra Singh said the situation is being monitored. “The situation is under control. There is no reason to worry. And if someone tries to create havoc, we will take strict action against miscreants,” he said.
Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Gauri Shankar Bisen said the strike would have no effect on daily life. “In this so-called farmers’ strike, there is no support from farmers,” the Hindustan Times quoted Bisen as saying. “It is only office-bearers of farmers’ organisations, supported by the Congress, who are involved in the strike. In fact, the farmers are happy with the policies of the state government. They are getting good price for their produce and are keen to bring it to the market. We are keeping an eye on the situation and if anyone tries to stop transportation of food, police will take necessary action.”
Madhya Pradesh Inspector General Makrand Deouskar said more than 15,000 police personnel have been deployed to 18 districts for the next 10 days.