Kisan Kranti, a state-level coordination committee of different farmers' outfits, said it was firm on a state-wide farmers strike from June 1, in a bid to draw the state government's attention to their problems. The farmers raised a slew of demands from loan waiver to free electricity. Earlier, over 2,000 farmers who mobilised support from various gram panchayats across 40 villages in districts of Ahmednagar, Nashik and Aurangabad had announced they will not to sell the farm produce in market if their demands were not heeded by May 31. The announcement of the farmers agitation came in the backdrop of an Opposition agitation against the BJP-led state government, demanding loan waiver to farmers.
Stray incidents of violence were reported from some parts including Nashik, Satara, Kolhapur and Pune where aggressive farmers emptied at least two tankers with several tonnes of fresh milk being transported to the cities, destroyed stocks of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, onions, being taken to markets. In another incident near Satara, the driver of a milk tanker was manhandled by some farmers and prevented from proceeding to his destination to transport the commodity, while stones were pelted at some vegetable and police vehicles near Nashik. The strike had elicited "good response" from farmers all over the state, except from agriculturists in the coastal Konkan, who are not part of the agitation. Movement of agricultural goods has been restricted since midnight. Most APMC markets wore a desolate look as farmers, traders, head-loaders, transporters and other officials virtually kept off. A farmer leader Jayaji Suryawanshi, who is also a member of the state-level umbrella organisation Kisan Kranti Morcha that is spearheading the strike, was allegedly roughed up by some traders near Aurangabad when he was on a market round to drum up support for the strike. On the outskirts of Nashik and Ahmednagar, small groups of farmers set up 'check-posts' to verify if goods carriers were transporting fruits, vegetables, milk, etc. before permitting passage.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government was trying to resolve the issue through talks, but the opposition - Congress and NCP - were instigating them for political gains. A committee of finance department secretary and bank officials has been formed to suggest ways to help farmers within seven days, the chief minister said. In some places, agitating farmers sought to stop supplies to the cities, with Fadnavis suggesting involvement of political workers. Social activist Anna Hazare extended his support to the indefinite strike of farmers as it entered the second day on June 2. But concerned over the violence witnessed on the first day, he urged farmers to carry out their agitation peacefully without causing damage to public or private properties.
After keeping the state on tenterhooks for 48 hours, Maharashtra farmers seemingly called off their 'strike' early on Saturday, June 3, following 'satisfactory' talks with the state government. The development came after around five hours marathon negotiations between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the leaders of Kisan Kranti core committee. "We are open to a farm loan waiver... We shall set up a committee for the purpose which will include farmers' representatives and take a decision by October 31," Fadnavis told mediapersons after the meeting. Thereafter, Kisan Kranti leaders said that nearly 70 per cent of their demands have been met by the government and accordingly the 'successful strike' was called off immediately. However, the farmers' strike looks poised to intensify in the coming week as the Saturday, June 3, meeting with CM Devendra Fadnavis to discuss their demands, wasn't fruitful, despite the CM announcing a loan waiver of Rs 30,000 crore to help 40 lakh small and marginal farmers. The farmers' delegation, led by Jayji Suryavanshi, was upset when he announced that the strike was withdrawn. Suryavanshi said, "The strike was called off only temporarily. But, if farmers want to continue, I am with them. I have made a mistake but I do not hesitate to apologise to the farmers."
As the agitation of farmers in Maharashtra continued for the fourth day on June 4, and the supply of vegetables and milk remained largely hit, farmers' outfits said they were firm on going ahead with the 'Maharashtra bandh' on Monday, June 5, excluding Mumbai. A meeting of farmers' representatives from different parts of the state under the aegis of the Kisan Kranti Morcha (KKM), that is spearheading the agitation, was held at the agriculture produce market committee in Nashik on the afternoon of June 4. During the meeting several resolutions were passed and a decision to go ahead with the Maharashtra bandh (excluding Mumbai) was taken.
Besides the supply going down, prices of vegetables too have increased due to the farmers' agitation. Tomatoes were selling for Rs 60 per kg on Sunday as compared to Rs 30 a week earlier. The price of cauliflower doubled from Rs 40 a kg to Rs 80. An official from APMC said that from Saturday (June 3) 10 pm to Sunday 8 am, 331 trucks and tempos of vegetables had reached the Vashi market, and 326 had gone back to Mumbai and Thane markets with supplies.
Vegetable prices started to stabilise in Mumbai after cracks appeared among the various farmer unions about whether or not to continue with the strike, following the state's announcement of a Rs 3,000-crore loan waiver. On Sunday (June 4) afternoon, after meeting the Chief Minister, Kisan Kranti Janandolan had called off the strike, but several other unions had decided to continue with it on Monday. Tomatoes that had sold for Rs 120 a kg on Saturday (June 3) came down to Rs 60 a kg on Sunday (June 4), and further dropped to Rs 50 per kg yesterday with the supply in the market increasing. Similarly, cauliflower prices dropped by Rs 20; those of onion, potato and bottle gourd remained the same.
As the farmers' strike in Maharashtra entered the sixth day on Tuesday (June 6), a farmer in Yeola tehsil of Nashik district, where the agitation is intense, committed suicide, police said. Navnath Changdev Bhalerao, resident of Pimpri village in the district, ended his life by consuming a poisonous chemical, said a local police officer.
Demanding a clear stand from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the farmersÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ agitation, the Shiv Sena ministers boycotted the cabinet meeting called on Wednesday (June 7) at the Mantralaya. Sena ministers held a meeting ahead of the cabinet meet scheduled for 11 am. Senior minister Subhash Desai said his party demanded clarity from Fadnavis on the farmers' demands. Meanwhile, Fadnavis maintained that he was clear about a waiver of Rs 30,000 crore for small and marginal farmers in need. He said the waiver would be implemented by October 31 this year as it needed comprehensive data of prospective beneficiaries. On the other hand, the Sena wants loans of all farmers waived. This would mean a massive expenditure for the state.
Mumbai received a record supply of vegetables in 10 hours overnight (10 pm on Tuesday (June 6) till 8 am Wednesday), with 639 trucks and tempos turning up at the APMC market in Vashi. The figure is the highest supply for a day in the April-June season. A total of 393 trucks and tempos laden with fruits also arrived at the APMC market. Officials said usually in the April-June season, the number of trucks/tempos arriving at the APMC market on Mondays and Saturdays is anywhere between 500 and 550, and between 450 and 500 on other days. While the authorities tried to assuage fears of supply shortage, the suppliers said the Nashik market, the centre of all veggie trade, remains shut, and alleged that many traders there have held suppliers' vehicles to ransom. They said the veggies were brought directly from the farms of some 10 farmers.
On June 4, amidst the simmering farmer crisis in the state, Nashik commissioner of police Ravindra Singal upped the ante against miscreants by issuing a circular to all vegetable and dairy farmers asking them to reach out to the police for security to transport their goods. He shared three helpline numbers in case of an emergency. The cyber cell and intelligence departments of the Nashik police have been working round the clock to nab miscreants pelting stones and damaging trucks coming into Mumbai. Singal's gesture has enabled a steady supply of vegetables to Pune and Mumbai.
Five persons were killed on June 6, as the farmers' agitation turned violent in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, prompting the authorities to clamp curfew in the trouble-hit area. Some eyewitnesses alleged that the victims sustained bullet wounds but district authorities denied that there was any firing by police on protesters. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the deaths, Mandsaur Collector S K Singh said, adding that police categorically told him that they didn't fire at the protesters. The deceased were identified as Kanhaiyalal Patidar, Bablu Patidar, Chain Singh Patidar, Abhishek Patidar and Satynarayan. Curfew has been imposed in Pipalya Mandi police station area where the incident took place, while prohibitory orders restricting movement under section 144 of CrPC have been imposed in rest of the district. According to eyewitnesses, protesting farmers torched vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits.
Widespread violence, including several incidents of arson, were reported from western Madhya Pradesh, especially Mandsaur and Dewas districts, on the seventh day of the farmers' agitation on Wednesday (June 7). Farmers even stopped a train during their nation-wide agitation in Dewas. The Centre rushed 1,100 anti-riots police personnel to Mandsaur district where five persons were killed on Tuesday allegedly in police firing. Though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore each for the families of five farmers, it didn't seem to have mollified the protesters who are demanding better prices for their produce and a complete farm loan waiver. The BJP government also announced a loan-settlement scheme which it said will cover around six lakh farmers with accumulated dues of Rs 6,000 crore. The bandh called by the main Opposition Congress received a mixed response. Curfew remained in force at Pipaliya Mandi area ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ where the five farmers were killed and six others were injured ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ and in Mandsaur town. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC are still on in place in the district, Inspector General V Madhukumar said. Mandsaur collector S K Singh was heckled when he tried to persuade protesters to lift a road blockade in Berheda Pant area. Inspector Shyambabu Sharma of Suasara police station received head injuries when the police were trying to bring under control a mob which was throwing stones at Guratiya Pratap square. A warehouse was set ablaze in Badi Choupati area and Mhow-Neemuch highway was blocked for hours. In Dewas district, protesters threw stones and set on fire four passenger buses and eight other vehicles. Passengers got down. A mob also torched vehicles outside the Hat Pipaliya police station in Dewas district.
The central government on Wednesday (June 8) sent five additional battalions of paramilitary forces to Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur where fresh violence erupted as protesting farmers indulged in arson, a day after at least five farmers were killed in police firing. Official sources said five more battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Acton Force have been sent to Mandsaur in addition to five battalions of paramilitary forces already present there. They said state government had sought additional central forces.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was on Thursday (June 8) detained when he tried to defy ban orders enforced in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur district where five protesting farmers were killed on Tuesday (June 6) in police firing. He was taken into preventive custody by the police in Neemuch district which borders Rajasthan. Before his detention, Gandhi charged the Narendra Modi government with writing off the loans of rich industrialists to the tune of Rs 1,50,000 crore but did not waive the loans of poor farmers. Asked who was responsible for the farmers' plight, Gandhi said: "Both. Narendra Modi and Chief Minister (Shivraj Singh Chouhan)." Earlier, Gandhi sent his security personnel into a tizzy after he took a bike ride to reach Mandsaur to meet the families of the dead farmers. Rahul Gandhi entered Madhya Pradesh by car from Rajasthan in a cavalcade of Congress leaders and activists. As he entered Neemuch, he saw a group of policemen near a toll plaza deployed to stop him. He immediately switched over to a motorcycle and gave them -- as well as his own NSG personnel -- the slip. A party activist drove the bike. Congress leader Sachin Pilot also took a motorcycle and followed Gandhi. They took a narrow lane through Chinta Khera village to reach Mandsaur.
Anti-riot paramilitary forces on Thursday (June 9) moved into violence-hit areas of Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur district, but the situation appeared to be improving in the troubled regions where farmers have been protesting for over a week demanding debt relief. As contingents of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) fanned out into the district, the state government shunted out Mandsaur collector Swatantra Singh and Superintendent of Police O P Tripathi. Curfew, imposed after escalating violence, was relaxed for two hours from 4 pm, as officials said the situation appeared to be improving. The police, however, said some areas were still tense.
It was personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who fired at the agitating farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, on Tuesday (June 6), resulting in the death of five, the local Inspector-General (IG) told mid-day. All the injuries were above the waist, with one of those killed being shot in the head, according to post-mortem reports. The revelation assumes significance, as the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told the media, after stoutly denying for two full days that security forces were not involved in the firing. If what the local IG says turns out to be true, serious questions will be asked of the CRPF about whether its men followed Standard Operating Protocol (SOP). Interestingly, no case has been registered against the policemen who opened fire on the mob nor have any policemen been suspended so far. According to SOP, any police action should be in the following sequence: (1) security personnel should warn an unlawful gathering to disperse, (2) usage of water cannons, (3) lathi charge below the waist, (4) firing of tear gas shells, and finally, (5) open fire, but only after specific instructions from a superior ranked officer. The Criminal Procedure Code, however, gives power to any police officer of the rank of sub-inspector to open fire in self-defence or to save citizensÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ lives or public property. But from available evidence, the security personnel seem to have resorted to firing live bullets before trying out any other avenue. Members of a four-doctor team that conducted the post-mortem on the five bodies told mid-day that all five bodies had bullet wounds above the waist, with one being also shot in the head. The autopsy reports have concluded that all deaths were due to gunshot injuries. Asked if the surgeon could ascertain the nature of weapon and range from which firing happened based on the extracted bullets, the doctor replied in negative, saying the Forensic Science Laboratory ballistic team would ascertain the same. Asked why security personnel did not take any crowd-control measures before resorting to firing, SOP, Makrand Deuskar, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence), Madhya Pradesh, defended the forces, saying measures were taken but the protesters were on a rampage.
Parts of Madhya Pradesh remained tense on Friday as farmer protests seeking debt relief and hike in crop prices spread across the state after a protester injured earlier in a clash with police died, taking the toll to six. The deceased was identified as Ghanshyam Dhaakad, 30, who was injured when a policeman hit him on his head with a baton during a protest in Daloda village in Mandsaur, the worst-hit district in the ongoing agitation, the victim's father said. Even as Mandsaur city and Piplia Mandi remained relatively calm on Friday when curfew was relaxed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the agitation spread to other parts of the state. All entry and exit points to Mandsaur were sealed. Protesters threw stones at police and blocked the Indore-Bhopal highway, setting a truck on fire after they were prevented from entering Bhopal for a planned sit-in in the state capital. Some vehicles were also damaged on the highway that remained closed for the traffic for the entire day on Friday. Stone-pelting protests were also reported from Dhar district where protesting farmers set on fire a private jeep. Farmers also gathered at the Sehore toll plaza on the highway and erected barricades and stopped the traffic, causing a severe jam and inconvenience to hundreds of commuters. They damaged the toll plaza property and even set some vehicles on fire. Protesting farmers in neighbouring Shajapur district were cane-charged and tear-gassed after a mob threw rocks at police. Meanwhile, farmer Krishan Meena, 40, from Raisen district killed himself after he allegedly failed to pay off his loans and electricity bills, his family said.
Virtually rejecting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' assurance on farm loan waiver, Maharashtra farmer leaders on Thursday (June 8) issued a two-day ultimatum to the government to accept their demands, failing which they will intensify their stir with blockades of rail tracks and roads. If the government failed to heed our demands, farmers will on Monday (June 12) take out 'morchas' (protest marches) to the respective collectorates and government offices in all districts, followed by statewide railway and road blockades on Tuesday (June 13), farmer leaders warned in Nashik. They also plan a 'Maharashtra shutdown' on Monday (June 12), lockdown of several government offices and demonstrations outside offices of ministers and legislators. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana indicated the party will soon walk out of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance in Maharashtra.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Mumbai on Thursday (June 8), blamed the party's predecessor the Congress government, for the farmers' turmoil. Singh said Congress' tenure at the Centre had promoted 'wholesale corruption'. Ã¢ÂÂThe Congress shouldn't forget that the mess in the agriculture sector is because of their failure to address problems of farmers. They are primarily responsible for the issues of farmers. They forget that Bharat is an agri-country and farmers are important,Ã¢ÂÂ said Singh before his meeting with BJP workers. Singh further said that the final decision on farmer issues has to be taken by the concerned state governments. He added that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is trying hard to resolve the issue. While there seems to be stress in the ties with Shiv Sena - which disliked its ally not taking it into confidence while taking a decision on farmer's loan, he had another view. Ã¢ÂÂThe Shiv Sena is our ally and friend. There could be a difference of opinion but our ties are there for years. CM Fadnavis also wants everyone's support on the issues,Ã¢ÂÂ he added.
On Thursday (June 8), some Yuva Sena members flung black ink on posters of Fadnavis put up in Ulhasnagar by political parties. Vice-president of Yuva Sena Bala Shrikhande and other members Nilesh Mane, Javed Shaikh, Akshay Dhotare and Sandeep Gaikwad had blackened all posters put up across Mumbai and Thane. The banners displayed had pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Fadnavis, former MLA from Ulhasnagar Kumar Ailani, and his wife Meena Kumar Ailani, who is the Mayor of Ulhasnagar. The banners have been put up in front of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation and other parts of the city. On social media, residents and other political parties have been poking fun at the banners.
Nine days after Maharashtra farmers went on a strike, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday (June 9) responded to it by forming a high-powered ministerial committee to examine the issue of loan waiver and other demands of the agriculturists, an official said. The committee, headed by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, will go into the entire gamut of demands, including writing off farm debts, issue of the minimum support prices, implementation of M.S. Swaminathan Commission Report, and pension for senior farmers, among others. It will invite farmers' leaders for discussions on their demands and seek suggestions, which will be submitted in a report to the government. The committee includes Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Cooperatives Minister Subhash Deshmukh, Water Supply Minister Girish Mahajan, and Shiv Sena's Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, besides Patil. The move came a day after farmers served a two-day ultimatum to the Fadnavis government to concede their demands, failing which they would resort to blockade of collectorates and revenue offices on Monday, followed by a rail and road blockade in the state on Tuesday (June 6).
About The Gallery
Farmers' stir in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh since June 1, has led to deaths, bandhs, disruption in vegetable and milk supply, road and rail blockage threats, and violent protests. Here a look at the developments
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