Farmers in 7 states begin 10-day shut down; supply of milk, vegetables to be hit
01 June 2018
Farmers from seven states have embarked on a 10-day stoppage of supplies of dairy and farm produce to the city markets to press their demands.
Fresh produce from farms and thousands of litres of milk have ended up on streets on the first day of the 10-day protest by farmers in the seven states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
The farmers have called for a "Gaon Bandh", to demand a complete loan waiver, minimum support price for their produce and an assurance of permanent minimum income from the government.
The Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM), a federation of 130 farmer organisations, spearheading the protests, has made it clear they will not supply any vegetables and dairy produce to the cities for the next 10 days.
On the first day of the protest, farmers in Punjab dumped vegetables, fresh fruits and spilled milk on streets. There has been no supply at all in Punjab except for Amritsar.
In Maharashtra, milk flowed on streets and tomatoes were dumped on a highway near Nashik.
In Haryana supplies were reduced by 40-50 per cent while milk supply was fully shut in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu.
In Madhya Pradesh's Indore, prices of vegetables have gone up by 400 per cent and in Bhopal prices are up by 70-80 per cent. Only three trucks reached the Nashik mandi that gets 300 trucks of produce in a day.
The farmers are demanding immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendation on minimum support prices; the price at which the government procures milk from them to be fixed at Rs27 and a one-time loan waiver.
"This has now become a nation-wide agitation. We have named the protest 'Gaon Bandh'. We won't go to cities, as we don't want to disturb the normal lives of the people. We have decided to observe a Bharat Bandh on 10 June till 2 pm. We would request businessmen in cities to close their shops till 2 pm," said Shiv Kumar Sharma, president, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh. If anyone wants to buy vegetables and dairy products, they will have to drive to the villages, he added.
The protest also marks the first death anniversary of seven farmers in police firing in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur on June 6 last year. "The government responds to the rightful demands of the farmers with lathis and bullets. June 6 is a black day for farmers. Nothing will be supplied by villages to cities for the next 10 days, neither will anything be brought from the cities during the period," Aam Kisan Union chief Kedar Sirohi said.
Fearing a repeat, the Mandsaur district administration has made elaborate security arrangements. Some farmers have also been made to sign surety bonds to ensure that they would not indulge in violence, news agency IANS reported.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Bhopal on Thursday, dubbed the farmers' agitation as an agitation of the Congress party. "The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state is working for the welfare of farmers and it has taken several big decisions in their interest," he said.