Farmers begin 10-day nationwide strike

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Farmers’ unions have launched a 10 day nation-wide protest across eight states on June 1. The strike is effective in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.

“This has now become a nation-wide agitation. We have named the protest ‘Gaon Bandh’. We won’t go to cities, as we don’t want to disturb the normal lives of the people. We have decided to observe a Bharat Bandh on 10 June till 2 pm. We would request businessmen in cities to close their shops till 2 pm,” said Shiv Kumar Sharma, president, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM, federation of 130 farmer organisations).

Farmers are agitating and demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation on minimum support prices at the earliest- the price at which the government procures milk from them to be fixed at Rs. 27 and a one-time loan waiver.

RKM made it clear on the very first day of the protest that farmers will cut off supply of milk, vegetables and essential farm produce for next 10 days to mark the first anniversary of the Mandsaur (epicenter of protest) demonstration in MP in which six farmers were killed in police firing on  6 June 2017.

Aam Kisan Union chief Kedar Sirohi on terming June 6 as black day said, “Our government responds to the rightful demands of the farmers with lathis and bullets. Nothing will be supplied by villages to cities for the next 10 days, neither will anything be brought from the cities during the period.”

Farmers in Punjab initiated agitation by wearing green turbans and throwing vegetables, fresh fruits and spilling milk on streets.

In Maharashtra, farmers dumped tomatoes on a highway near Nashik.

The federation has assured that farmers won’t block any roads, but they will sit on dharna along 30 major highways in the country.

Meanwhile Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state is working for the welfare of farmers and it has taken several big decisions in their interest.”