Maharashtra farm stir sees modest attendance
Mumbai: The “road blockade” called by a host of farmers’ organizations in Maharashtra on Monday evoked a modest response in some parts of the state.
The protest was called by the steering committee of farmers’ organizations to demand a blanket farm loan waiver, higher minimum support prices for all farm produce as per the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and waiver of electricity charges for farmers.
However, the day also saw differences crop up between some organizations over the strategy of protest on 15 August.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana founder Raju Shetty, MP, said that his organization would not participate in the protest on 15 August as it was “the Independence Day, which must be celebrated with joy by all including farmers”.
The steering committee, especially the Bharatiya Kisan Sabha which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has called for a protest on 15 August and urged farmers not to allow district guardian ministers to hoist the national flag.
The Kisan Kranti Samiti of Puntamba village in Ahmednagar district, which had given the original call for a farmers’ strike in June, also distanced itself from the protest saying all the current leaders of the steering committee were pushing farmers deeper in trouble for their politics.
“The leaders of the steering committee only give fiery speeches that instigate young farmers who resort to violence and who as a result face police cases. The leaders themselves stay away at a safe distance,” said Kisan Kranti member Sandip Gidde.
In Sangli and Solapur districts of western Maharashtra, farmers blocked roads at several points demanding a complete loan waiver. In Sangli, farmers staged protests at eight places and the police detained many protestors including former legislator Sharad Patil. Maadha, Malshiras, and Pandharpur tehsils of Solapur also saw protests.
In Nashik district, protestors blocked Nashik-Surat highway for a couple of hours at Dindori. Protesters also blocked the Nagpur Aurangabad highway in Buldhana district of Vidarbha.
In Buldhana, the protest was led by Raju Shetty. Shetty said the government needed to announce a complete farm loan waiver immediately and do away with the cumbersome procedures for applying for partial farm loan waiver and the crop insurance scheme.
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