Farmers from Maharashtra’s Puntamba village, which was the epicentre of a massive protest by cultivators in 2017, began an agitation on Wednesday over issues related to sugarcane and other crops.
The agitation, which started near the gram panchayat office in Putamba village of Ahmednagar district, will continue till June 5, sarpanch (village head) Dhananjay Dhanwate told PTI. If the government does not respond to their demands, the agitation will be intensified, he said.
Farmers from nearby areas like Niphad (in Nashik) and Kopargaon (Ahmednagar) also joined the protest, he added. Last month, a meeting was held at the Puntamba gram panchayat where farmers decided to put forth 16 demands before the government.
Referring to some of their demands, Dhanwate said the sugarcane cultivation was on the higher side in the state due to (last year’s) excess rains, but now sugar factories are not picking up the crop. Farmers are burning the crop or even committing suicide. Hence, they want that the state government provide a help of Rs 2 lakh per hectare to the farmers whose sugarcane is still in the fields, he said.
Besides, onion growers should get an aid of Rs 500 per quintal as the rates of the key kitchen staple have come down. The farmers have also demanded electricity bill waiver, he said.
“We held a rally in the village in the morning and then started the agitation. We will hold the protest till June 5 and we expect the government to talk to the agitating farmers over their demands. If discussions are not held, we will intensify our agitation,” Dhanwate said.
Farmers from Puntamba, under the banner of the Kisan Kranti Morcha, had organised a massive farmer strike in 2017 to raise various demands.
Meanwhile, farm organisations across the country on Tuesday staged protests against the attack on farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha said.
Miscreants on Monday threw ink on Tikait during an event organised by a farmers’ organisation in Bengaluru following which three people were arrested for the attack. Demonstrations were held in several states as the protesting farmers demanded strict action against the culprits and an inquiry into the incident, the SKM said.
“According to the available reports, protests were held in Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and other states,” the statement said. In Uttar Pradesh, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) workers and functionaries staged a protest at the district headquarters in Ghaziabad and demanded Z-plus category security for Tikait.
A memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was handed over to city magistrate Gambhir Singh in which they stated that at time of the incident, policemen were present there, which shows that BJP workers had carried out this act. In Karnataka, farm organisations held protests in Bengaluru, Chikkaballapura, Chamarajanagar, Sagar, among several other places, it said.
SKM has reiterated its demand of strict punishment for the culprits, suspension of officers guilty of negligence, judicial inquiry into the incident and security to Tikait, the statement said.
“Prime accused Bharat Shetty has been pictured with several BJP leaders, including former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddiyurappa,” the SKM said. The attackers were raising slogans of “Jai Modi (prime minister)” and “Modi, Modi”, it further claimed.
Tikait had on Monday alleged that the ink attack on him was in connivance with the state government. “The local police is responsible for it and it happened due to the connivance of the government,” Tikait had told reporters. (PTI)