Farmers in Punjab call off agitation; other decide to intensify
Tension prevails in many parts of Punjab, vegetable prices soar in several citiesUpdated: Jun 05, 2018 10:52 IST
A farmer organisation in Punjab called off their protest on Monday after scuffle between the protesting farmers and milk suppliers in several parts of the state on day four of the Goan Bandh (village blockade) even as prices of vegetables, fruits and milk continued to soar in several cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of a faction of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) said there were reports of fracas between the protesting farmers and milk suppliers in Amritsar, Faridkot, Mohali, Moga, Gidderbaha and some other places in the past two days.
“I have never supported any violent stir. There was no support from the state government and the situation was going out of hand at some places. We do not want any clashes,” he said, justifying the decision to call off the agitation in the state.
However, in many other parts of Punjab tension prevailed as protesting farmers tried to prevent other farmers and traders from carrying vegetables, fruits and milk to urban areas. Traders clashed with farmers in Gidderbaha town, forcing police to intervene who booked two farmers.
The decision to stop supplies from June 1 till June 10 was taken by farmers under the banner of Kisan Ekta Manch and Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh to press for minimum income guarantee scheme, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and waiver of farmers’ debt.
Elsewhere, the farmer organisation announced to intensify the agitation. “The government hasn’t fulfilled promises it had given last year. We have no option but to intensify our protests,” said Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, one of the farmers’ union participating in the strike.
Disruption in supply has led to a sharp rise in prices of vegetable and milk in Jaipur as well.
“Jaipur Dairy alone has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1 crore as anti-social elements spilled nearly 60,000 litres of milk on roads. Twelve tankers were vandalised. Jaipur Dairy has lodged eight-nine FIRs for damaging and manhandling employees,” Jaipur Dairy chairman Om Prakash Punia said.
Vegetable prices have shot up by 25-30% in the city. “The prices of vegetables have increased by 25-30 per cent in the last three days because of restricted supply,” a vegetable vendor at Muhana vegetable market said.
In Madhya Pradesh, farmers spilled milk and threw vegetables on road at several places after which the police arrested some of the farmers. In Betul district, six farmers were and later released on bail after they threw vegetables on road. Farmers in Khargone too threw vegetables on the road while at Neelbad in Bhopal vegetable growers distributed vegetables among people free to register their protest against the government’s policies.
Inspector general (intelligence) Makarand Deoskar said Patidar leader Hardik Patel will not be allowed to hold any public meeting in the state till June 10 because of the on going farmer agitation.
In Maharashtra, police claimed to have foiled immolation bid by two Congress legislators near district headquarters in Amravati. “Virendra Jagtap and Yashmomati Thakur, the legislators, were detained just before they could pour kerosene and set themselves ablaze,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Chinmay Pandit said.
Jagtap said that they decided to take the step to protest against failure of the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) to start procurement of ‘tur’ (a pulse variety) and ‘harbhara’ (gram) to provide relief to farmers.
Market associations in Maharashtra claimed prices of fruits and vegetables have increased by about 10% in most cities including Mumbai and Pune.