Farmer Protests: Milk, Vegetable Supply to be Hit as Farmers Launch 10-Day Strike in MP, Maharashtra, Punjab

New Delhi: Farmers’ unions across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab launched a mega 10-day protest on Friday morning, shutting down supply of milk, vegetables and essential farm produce to mark the first anniversary of the Mandsaur demonstration in MP in which six farmers were killed in police firing. 

Multiple orgainsers that News18 spoke to said farmers will not take to the roads this time. Instead, they will simply not supply milk and vegetables to the state's markets. City-dwellers can buy directly from the villages if they so choose. 

Among their major demands are one-time loan waiver, higher minimum support prices and higher prices for their produce in general.

Over a 100 outfits claiming to be farmers’ organisations had met at Bhopal’s Gandhi Ashramin Wardha on May 11. The meeting was convened by Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh — an umbrella organisation of all the outfits. Modalities of the 10-day agitation were discussed during the meet.

Swabhiman Shetkari Sangathana, which took part in the Maharashtra agitation for loan waiver, is staying away, questioning the credibility of these organisations. RSS-backed Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has also decided to not participate in the protests. 

In Mandsaur, the police were reported to have made farmers sign bonds of Rs 24,000 that they would not join the strike.

“The administrative authorities have made us sign bonds so that we don’t get violent. Police officials are also being trained to fire tear gas shells. There is extra enforcement being brought in. Is preparation for some kind of war? We are just ordinary farmers demanding our needs,” said Anil Yadav, a local farmers’ leader in Madhya Pradesh.

Yadav was arrested following the Mandsaur violence on June 6 last year and allegedly beaten up in custody. “I was arrested wrongly. The demands we had made last year are still unaddressed,” he said.

In case of violence, the farmers have decided to go for ‘jail bharo’ wherein they will walk towards local police stations as a sign of unity and civility. “We will also walk the Gandhi path and observe a vow of silence if authorities pressurise us,” said a local farm leader.

Farmers have been asked not to waste milk and vegetables, but some protesters defied the order in Madhya Pradesh. 

Speaking to News18, Inderjit Jaijee, who is leading the protests in Punjab, said, “Farmers in Punjab have been distressed for a long time now. We have decided to stop supply of produce to the markets. This will create an automatic panic in the food market and the government has to listen to us. We have strictly asked all farmers to not waste their produce by throwing it on streets. This is being done just to portray our importance to the outside world which has neglected our existence,” he said.

Farmer leaders in Maharashtra reiterated the plan of action. “It was through a national meeting that we reached the common conclusion. We are not going to take any violent measures but create tremendous pressure on the markets through stopping supply,” said a local farmer leader in Maharashtra. 

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti met President Ram Nath Kovind this week to request him to ensure that a week of the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament be dedicated to farmer issues.

One of the major reasons protests turned violent last year was miscommunication and mismanagement. This year, however, messaging apps, WhatsApp and social media platforms are being used to keep the protests peaceful.

Pushpendra Singh, a farmer leader from Bhopal said, “I have circulated messages across roughly 200 WhatsApp groups and that in turn got spread further.” 

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had spent a night in Mandsaur on Wednesday and met leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union who will be participating in the proposed farmers’ stir. The CM accused the Congress of sowing discord among farmers.

Earlier, he had met bankers in Bhopal, instructing them to ensure timely payments to farmers after procurement of their crops by state government.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will also be in Mandsaur on June 6 to mark the first anniversary of the bloody protests.


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