[Milk spilled on road as farmers go on indefinite strike in Maharashtra. (File Photo of June 2017 protest)]
New Delhi: Thousands of farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Haryana on Friday started a 10-day nationwide strike demanding complete waiver of loans, right price for their crops and implementation of recommendations of Swaminathan Commission.
The 10-day strike is called to mark the first anniversary of the Mandsaur demonstration in Madhya Pradesh, in which six farmers were killed in police firing on June 06 last year. The farmers have shut down the supply of milk, vegetables and essential farm produce due to which the vegetable prices in the market have gone up.
"The government responds to the rightful demands of the farmers with lathis and bullets. June 6 is a black day for farmers. Nothing will be supplied by villages to cities for the next 10 days, neither will anything be brought from the cities during the period," Aam Kisan Union chief Kedar Sirohi said.
In Maharashtra, farmers' organisations are divided and hence the effect of the strike is seen only in parts of the state. Major wholesale markets, however, remain open today in Mumbai and Pune. The latest strike of the farmers comes just months after about 50,000 farmers from across Maharashtra marched to Mumbai to put pressure on the Devendra Fadnavis-led government to help the ailing sector.
In Punjab, farmers wearing green turbans can be seen in viral photographs throwing vegetables, fresh fruits and spilling milk on streets. Milk flowed on streets and tomatoes were dumped on a highway near Nashik in Maharashtra. The hold up along with wastage is going to badly hit the cities.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Shiv Kumar Sharma, President of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, which is leading the protests, said, "More than 130 farmers organisations are with us. This has now become a nationwide agitation. We have named the protest 'Gaon Band'. We won't go to cities, as we don't want to heckle the normal lives of the people."
"We have decided to observe a Bharat Bandh on June 10 till 2 pm. I would like to request all the businessmen of cities to close their shops till 2 pm and pay tribute to farmers who have lost their lives in previous years," Sharma added.
Such outbursts of rural discontent in Maharashtra and other states pose a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to double the income of farmers over the next five years.
Two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people depend directly or indirectly on farming for their livelihood but only account for 14 percent of gross domestic product, reflecting a growing divide between the countryside and increasingly well-off cities.
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