10-day farmers’ strike in Madhya Pradesh begins today
Under the strike called “gaon bandh” (village bandh), the farmers have decided to not supply vegetables, fruits and milk to mandis.
The 10-day statewide farmers’ strike for better prices of produce will begin from Friday amid fears of shortage of essentials and violence during the agitation. The crucial test for the authorities would be on June 6 when Congress president Rahul Gandhi will hold a rally in Pipliyamandi near Mandsaur to mark the death anniversary of six farmers who were killed during the agitation in June last year.
On Thursday, consumers bought vegetables, fruits and milk in bulk across all major cities, even as prices of vegetables rose between 15% and 30%.
However, agriculture minister Gauri Shankar Bisen said there was no need to panic and the strike would have no effect on the day-to-day lives of people.
“In this so-called farmers’ strike, there is no support from farmers. 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,” he said.
The police, meanwhile, are not taking any chances. According to IG (intelligence) Makrand Deouskar, of the 51 districts in the state, the impact of the strike will be felt in 18, including 12 districts in Malwa, and the remaining in Hoshangabad, Sagar, Gwalior and Chambal divisions. Over 15,000 policemen have been deployed in these districts for 24 hours for the next 10 days.
Deouskar said learning from last year’s experience, police are going to focus on all the major national and state highways to ensure they are not taken over by agitators. Last year, the protestors had laid siege to major portions of the Mhow-Neemuch highway and set fire to several vehicles on the road. There was also violence on the Indore-Bhopal highway. This time, all the 11 farmers’ organisations taking part in the strike have assured that there will be no violence.
Under the strike called “gaon bandh” (village bandh), the farmers have decided to not supply vegetables, fruits and milk to mandis. However, a senior police official said it was very difficult for any agitation to sustain itself peacefully for 10 days and the major challenge for authorities would be on days leading to and after June 6.
Though the strike is statewide, its maximum impact is likely in the Malwa region, especially in Mandsaur and adjoining Neemuch, which saw the maximum violence last year. The government and district administrations have made elaborate security arrangements for the strike.
OP Shrivastava, the collector of Mandsaur that was the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation last year, said there were adequate arrangements for security. “We have taken the traders into confidence and they have assured that they have stock of vegetables that will be made available. Milk supply has also been streamlined and it will be provided through Sanchi outlets,” he said.