Fresh farm stir in Madhya Pradesh over farm loan waiver, better MSP
Mumbai: Farm activists in Madhya Pradesh resumed their protest in Mandsaur district on Thursday to demand a loan waiver and better support prices for farm produce.
A host of organizations and activists joined the Madhya Pradesh-based Aam Kisan Union to launch a Kisan Mukti Yatra from Budha village in Mandsaur district, which was the hotbed of violent farmers’ protests in June.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president and member of Parliament from Hatkanangale in Maharashtra Raju Shetty, Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav and Narmada Bachao Andolan convener Medha Patkar were among those who joined the protest.
The Aam Kisan Union has been leading the farm protest in Madhya Pradesh over the past three years. Its founder member Sunil Golya said in a phone interview that the yatra was stopped at Gudhbeli in Mandsaur district, where the police detained farmers and their leaders as a preventive measure.
“We wanted to start a nationwide yatra from Mandsaur since it was here that the police shot dead six farmers. But the police did not allow us to visit the families of the deceased farmers to pay our tributes,” Golya said.
He said since the farmers were not getting profitable support prices, the Madhya Pradesh government needed to waive their loans to provide relief. “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have done it. What is stopping Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” Golya said, referring to loan waivers announced by the two state governments.
A member of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana said Raju Shetty had joined the Madhya Pradesh protests in June itself. “He has been associated with the farmers’ cause here from the beginning. Unless we involve other farmers’ organizations and political parties that support our demands, we cannot make this campaign a nationwide protest,” he said, requesting anonymity.
A BJP leader in Madhya Pradesh, however, scoffed at the protest march saying that the very fact that political parties had joined farmers’ organizations proved the political intent behind the campaign.
“When people like Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar join the protest, it hardly remains a farmers’ campaign. These elements want to create political instability in Madhya Pradesh,” the leader said, requesting anonymity.
All farm leaders and farmers detained by the police were released in the evening. The farm activists held a meeting at Balauda mandi in Mandsaur district. Kedar Sirohi, founder-member of Aam Kisan Union, said in a phone interview that the farmers’ march would resume on Friday and would reach Indore. “The march would continue right up to New Delhi under the leadership of Raju Shetty and other activists. It would culminate in a public meeting in Delhi on 18 July.”