The farmers’ strike had a greater impact on the second day, with vegetable supplies across markets in the state dipping, causing a spike in prices. Across the state, the strike was marked by intense protests and stray incidents of violence. The Kisan Kranti Morcha, a state-level coordination committee of farmers’ outfits spearheading the agitation said that the agitation will intensify further. “To ensure that our demands are met, we are calling for a bandh barring Mumbai on June 5. Barring ambulances and medical stores, we will ensure that everything from private transport to schools get shut. We request people to stay in their homes for one day in solidarity with farmers who feed them,” Jayajirao Survayanshi, a member of the Kisan Kranti Morcha, said.
The group had held a press conference in Puntamba in Ahmednagar district in which the decision to call for a bandh was taken. “As part of our agitation, we also plan to shut down all government offices on June 6, and from June 7 onwards we will lock up all the offices of MLAs and MPs in the state,” Suryavanshi said.
Cities like Mumbai which had to a large extent remained unaffected by the strike on day one felt the pinch on Friday. Vegetable supplies to Mumbai have come down to almost a quarter causing a spike in prices.
“We generally receive around 500 vegetable-laden trucks each day. Today, the number fell to 130-140. Of these, only five per cent were from the state because of the strike. The bulk of the supplies was from outside Maharashtra. The market has started feeling the impact of the strike,” Ashok Shinde, a trader from Vashi APMC said.
The supply shortage was reflected in prices of vegetable in the market. Cabbage prices went up from Rs 7-8 per kg on Thursday to Rs 15-20 on Friday. The price of peas increased from Rs 30-40 to Rs 70 while a bundle of coriander being sold at Rs 20-25 was being sold at Rs 100 at the Vashi market. Prices in retail markets also showed a similar spike.
A similar situation was noticed in almost all major APMC markets in western and northern Maharashtra which supply the bulk of green vegetables. There was not a single truck that arrived in APMCs of Kalyan, Thane, Manmad, Yeola and Lasalgaon.
Farmers across the state continued with their protests by either throwing milk on the roads or distributing it free in their villages.
There were stray incidents of violence. In Nashik’s Satana, protestors obstructed a Gujarat-bound truck containing onions, which was thrown on the road. Another container carrying milk to Gujarat was obstructed. In Pandharpur, farmers of Vakhri village protested by burning an effigy of the CM. Milk was poured on the effigy before burning it.
In Pune’s Rajgurunagar, the Kisan Sabha’s Pune chief Dr Amol Waghmare and other office-bearers were arrested by the Rajgurunagar police, following a violent protest.
In Dhule, Shiv Sena and Sambhaji Brigade workers joined the protesting farmers.
The strike is also likely to affect milk supply in major cities. In Mahananda dairy in Mumbai which receives over three lakh litres of milk daily, only 15,000 litres was received on Friday, according to officials.
Government officials confirmed that the daily milk supply to cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region was down by 30 per cent on Friday. About 50-55 lakh litres of milk is normally supplied to the belt. In Nashik’s Satana, protestors obstructed a Gujarat-bound truck containing onions, which was thrown on the road. In a similar incident, another container carrying milk supplies to Gujarat was obstructed.
In Pune’s Rajgurunagar, Kisan Sabha’s Pune chief Dr Amol Waghmare and other office-bearers were arrested by the Rajgurunagar police, following a violent protest.
In Dhule, the protest saw a political turn, with Shiv Sena and Sambhaji Brigade workers taking to the streets to join the farmers.
Meanwhile, various social activists and politicians have come out in support of the agitating farmers, putting the ruling BJP in a quandary. Social activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday offered to mediate between the striking farmers and the Maharashtra government.
While coming out in support of the farmers’ agitation, Hazare offered to play an active role in resolving the crisis. “I’ve twice held discussions with the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) over the matter, and he has assured that he was willing for talks. If the farmers’ representatives are ready to send a delegation for talks, I can remain present for the discussion,” Hazare said.
He claimed that lack of returns for farm produce was at the heart of the agitation.
“Farmer are not getting returns to commensurate to the rising input costs. This has made it difficult for them to repay loans. While this has been going on for years, there is a limit to their tolerance. It is important that the government takes a sympathetic view of their concerns,” he said.
The MNS and the Shiv Sena said they supported loan waiver for farmers.
“The BJP has lied to come into power. When they were in opposition they were making the same demands and now when they are in power they say the government has no money,” MNS chief Raj Thackeray said.
The Shiv Sena also took a swipe at the BJP and claimed that the party should take steps to help farmers.
“The BJP should understand the plight of farmers. When you were in the opposition, you were making similar demands and that is the reason people elected you. It is time to fulfill those promises now,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.