Villagers of Puntamba, are still trying to come to terms with the rapid turn of events that has catapulted their village into limelight over the last few days. While the villagers are still continuing with the farmers’ strike, a sense of betrayal and disappointment hangs thick over the village.
Located in Rahata taluka of Ahmednagar, Puntamba had shot into limelight after its gram sabha passed a resolution on April 3 calling a farmers’ strike from June 1. The idea had spread like wild fire and farmers across Maharashtra had decided to go on a similar strike.
The strike also entailed stopping supplies of milk and vegetables to urban centers of Pune and Mumbai. Farmers had called for this strike to demand for loan waiver, implementation of the Swaminathan Committee’s report about fixing price of farm produce from the state government.
The strike was a resounding success from Day One but the core committee formed to negotiate with the government decided to call off the strike early Saturday after a late night marathon meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The decision did not go down well with the protesting farmers with participants from Nashik, Marathwada and some other places promising to continue the strike.
By late Saturday, farmers across the state had decided to continue with the strike. But the centre of focus had moved from Puntamba, with farmers in Nashik taking the lead. In Puntamba, villagers have continued with the strike but the initial enthusiasm seems to be missing. Suhas Wadane, a local resident, said they were finding it difficult to cope with the rapid turn of events “Puntamba had shot into fame for the stance taken by us.
But the greed of a handful destroyed the whole movement,” he said. Wadane said active political interference destroyed what was a farmers’ movement. Dhanjay Jadhav, one of the earlier core committee members, has earned the maximum ire of villagers. Jadhav, a resident of the village, is supposed to be a BJP worker has been non-traceable since Friday.
Wadane and other villagers are now accusing the core committee of selling the movement out to the government. Meanwhile, leaders from various organisations have made a beeline for the village to express their support. Sambhajiraje Patil, president of the farmers’ wing of Maratha Mahasangh, said the strike would continue with or without the core committee members. “It’s a farmers movement and we will continue this,” he said.