Mumbai: Distressed farmer threatens to jump from Mantralaya building

Nov 11, 2017, 08:19 IST | A Correspondent

Intervention by the education minister and two junior ministers helps convince farmer - who was seeking better prices for cotton and soybean - to get off the parapet

Intervention by the education minister and two junior ministers helps convince farmer - who was seeking better prices for cotton and soybean - to get off the parapet

While the Mantralaya has witnessed several suicide attempts by distressed visitors, it had not seen anything like Friday's protest by a distressed farmer.

Gyaneshwar Salve stayed on the parapet for almost two hours
Gyaneshwar Salve stayed on the parapet for almost two hours

The farmer, identified as Dnyaneshwar Salve, created an unprecedented stir at the state government's headquarters, when he threatened to jump from the sixth floor parapet of the building unless the government gave better prices for cotton and soybean.

The fire brigade had cast a safety net to catch Salve if he jumped
The fire brigade had cast a safety net to catch Salve if he jumped 

Testing time
The incident, which lasted for almost two hours, tested all the skills of the police, fire brigade and a senior minister, who negotiated successfully with Salve to avoid a disaster.

Salve entered Mantralaya as a visitor and made his way to the seventh floor of the annexe building. From there, he stepped out from a window and onto a parapet on the sixth floor. Around 4.15 pm, he began shouting slogans and flashing a pamphlet to draw the attention of the government. Immediately, the fire brigade was summoned. The firemen had cast a safety net to catch Salve, in case he jumped.

Nothing for himself
Salve, who hails from a small village in Osmanabad district told negotiators - state education minister Vinod Tawde and two junior ministers Deepak Kesarkar and Dr Ranjeet Patil - that he did not want anything for himself or his family. But, he pressed for better prices for cotton, soybean and other farm produce being procured by the government at several market yards, for which farmers are allegedly currently shortchanged by being given guaranteed prices below the minimum.

He also demanded to be allowed to speak with the agriculture minister, who was not present in Mantralaya and have an interaction with the media. Tawde said Salve is an activist who made this effort to draw the attention of the government. "He is an activist and he chose this form of protest. We are happy that his life was saved. He did not seek anything for himself or his family," said the minister, without mentioning the assurance given to Salve.

The farmer - who the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims is a member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - couldn't be contacted because the police took him away, possibly to the Marine Drive police station. Sources said security at the Mantralaya would be enhanced further after this incident. A reformed entry mechanism is already in place, wherein visitors are identified properly and frisked thoroughly before being allowed to enter.

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