Farmers across several states today launched a 10-day agitation to press their demands of loan waiver and right price for crops. Protesting farmers dumped vegetables, milk and other farm produce on roads and blocked supplies to cities in several states.
Farmer organisations also called for boycott of mandis or wholesale markets in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, leading to fears of shortage and price rise.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh convenor Shivkumar Sharma told reporters in Bhopal that the ‘Gaon Band’ stir is being held across 22 states. Police have kept a close vigil in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, where six farmers were killed in a police firing during the farmers’ agitation on June 6 last year.
“The cultivators have been asked not to come to the markets in urban areas to sell their farm produce, including milk,” Sharma added.
On the last day of the protest on June 10, the farmers’ bodies will organise ‘Bharat Bandh’, he said. Markets were also shut in adjoining Neemuch district.
The Mandsaur SP said no untoward incident was reported in the district so far. “Five companies of the Special Armed Force of MP police are keeping a vigil across the district,” he said.
The decision to stop supplies starting from June 1 till June 10 was taken by farmers under the banner of Kisan Ekta Manch and Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh. A meeting of the coordination committee of these two farmers organisations, which claim to be representing 172 farmer outfits, was held last month to give final shape to the programme.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, claimed good response from farmers in Punjab and other states. “Farmers have stopped bringing vegetables, milk and other items to the cities for sale,” he claimed.
Rajewal claimed that not only in Punjab and Haryana, farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and some other states were also not selling their produce in cities.
At some places in Punjab, farmers dumped vegetables and milk on road as a mark of protest. "During the 10-day long protest, the farmers will stay in their villages and will not go to cities for supplying their produce,” he said. “However, they can sell their produce among villagers,” he said, adding that the first day of their agitation had been peaceful so far.
The farmer organisations have alleged that the central government has failed to address their issues pertaining to low income, farmer suicides and debt.
"We have also been demanding minimum income guarantee scheme, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and waiver of farmers’ debt,” said Rajewal.