Punjab farmers to end strike on June 6 after clashes with milk vendors
The farmers’ strike in Punjab and other states that started on June 1 was scheduled to end on June 10Updated: Jun 04, 2018 19:17 IST
Farmers’ organizations in Punjab on Monday decided to call off their four-day-old strike from June 6 after clashes between farmers and milk vendors were reported across the state.
The strike in Punjab and other states that started on June 1 was scheduled to end on June 10. The strike had caused a spike in vegetable prices in cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur as supplies were disrupted.
“The government was trying to divide the farmers as it was shaken by the success of their protest programme. Some anti-social elements infiltrated our protest and kept harassing the common man. The decision to call off the protest prematurely was taken on the request of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, state president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), at a news conference.
Rajewal said that though the unions had asked the farmers to stop the supply of vegetables and milk, they never appealed to anyone to resort to violence. “We had held protests even in the past but had never seen such violence. Farmers and milk vendors have come to blows at different locations and we thought it was better to call off the strike,” said Rajewal. On Saturday evening, a group of protesting farmers and dairy owners had a heated exchange after which shots were fired in the air.
As part of the protest, dairy farm owners were not allowed to sell their produce to government-run milk plants and other dairies for supply in cities. Some commercial dairy farmers had also said that with mounting losses, they would have no other option but to withdraw from the protest and sell milk to plants. Others said they were considering setting up chabeels (giving milk out for free) on roads or donating it to orphanages and old age homes.
Rajewal said that the mounting pressure from the dairy farmers led to the decision to call off the strike. “The government has learnt its lessons through our protest. We only wanted that the middlemen who make all the moolah, should be checked and the farmers get their profit share. The middlemen buy veggies at cheap prices from the farmers and sell it at a price which is even five times more to the consumers. We wanted to reverse it so that the consumers get the vegetables at cheaper prices and farmers should get some profit,” said Rajewal.
The protest will be formally called off on June 6 after paying tributes to the six farmers who had lost their lives during an agitation last year.