Farmers’ protest Day 3: Vegetable prices soar, milk spilled on roads in Punjab
Widespread support: Some dairy farmers refuse to sell milk, prepare ‘kheer’ and distribute it among people.punjab Updated: Jun 03, 2018 11:13 IST
The 10-day countrywide protest called by farmer bodies entered Day 3 on Sunday. The on-going protest has hit supply of vegetables, fruits and milk in many parts of Punjab amid clashes between protesters, traders and milk sellers.
Several farmers’ organisations have jointly called the protest demanding remunerative prices for their produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and farm loan waivers, among others.
Already reeling under high fuel prices, people suffered a further jolt as prices of vegetables shot up manifold. At Kakra village in Sangrur’s Bhawanigarh area, farmer activists “forced” some dairy owners to go back. The angry dairy owners then dumped 14,000 litres of milk on the road. Protesting farmers also stopped a Verka tempo in Sangrur and did not allow its employees to distribute milk. The angry staff threw the milk packets on the road.
- Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday described the farmer protest as a “sign of desperation of farmers in the face of wrongs being perpetrated on them by the central government”.
- He said the farming community in the country was in the grip of a serious crisis due to the “indifferent” attitude of the BJP-led central government. “The government had failed to provide any succour to the beleaguered farmers, who were unable to make both ends meet due to its antagonistic policies. Despite repeated pleas by Punjab and other state governments, the Centre had failed to come to the rescue of the community,” he said
Some dairy farmers chose to show solidarity with the protest by not selling milk. The prepared “kheer” and distributed it among people. “We do not want to dump our milk on roads. The poor people need food and we have decided to hold a langar instead,” Gurpreet Singh, a farmer of Bhullarheri village said.
As milk spilled on the roads, some areas went without it. “We will set up checkposts on roads leading to different cities from Sunday to completely disconnect supply of milk and vegetables,” Gurmeet Singh Kapial, Sangrur district president of BKU (Rajewal) said.
In Hoshiarpur, the main vegetable market remained closed following clashes between farmers and traders after the produce brought to the mandi for sale was damaged. The agitators stood guard at the entry gates and parked tractor-trailers to block the way.
The farmers associations in Jalandhar created ruckus at the new wholesale vegetable market and forced commission agents to join their protest by not selling their stored stock of vegetables and fruits. “On Saturday morning, a group of farmers came to the market in their cars and started vandalising shops,” Dimpy Sachdeva, president of the New Sabzi Mandi Arhtiya Association, said. Police was rushed to the vegetable market to control the situation.
In Ludhiana, members of BKU (Lakhowal) laid siege to vegetable markets of the city. The protesters assembled on Rahon road on Saturday morning to check the flow of milk and vegetables to the city. Arthiyas said the supply blockade by farmers will lead to 25% hike in the prices of vegetables in the coming days.
Tepid response in Majha
The strike failed to get much response in the Majha region comprising Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts. One of region’s prominent union, the Kisan Sangarsh Committee (KSC), is not taking part in the stir. KSC’s state convener Kawalpreet Singh Pannu said: “We are against the protest. Our fight is against the government not the people. We cannot stop supply of essential commodities like milk and vegetables to hospitals. The vendors too need to earn a living daily.”
Following a social media campaign, some farmers donated milk to gurdwaras. Nishan Singh, a dairy farmer of Amritsar, said he donated the milk for the Golden Temple’s langar on Friday.
The unions associated with the Left parties did not support the call.
(With inputs from Sangrur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana)
First Published: Jun 03, 2018 10:56 IST