A group of farmers, hailing from Marathwada, dumped farm produce at the Mantralaya gate on Friday afternoon to protest against the state’s alleged apathy in ensuring commensurate sale price for their commodities. Eight persons were booked and later released on personal bonds.
Police said the protesters, from Osmanabad’s Bhum taluka, raised slogans against the state government and dumped onions, brinjals, green chillies and lemons near the entrance to the state secretariat in south Mumbai. Later, the area was cleaned and the protesters were taken to the nearby Marine Drive police station.
Senior Inspector Vilas Gangavane said: “Eight people were booked under sections 37(A) and 135 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951. They were later released on personal bonds.” The sections deal with prohibitory arrests carried out
to prevent disorder.
The agitators alleged that Mumbai municipality officials and the local police had been demanding bribes and not allowing them to sell their produce at a weekly farmers’ market in Borivali. “We tried to reason with them. But they would not budge. We complained at the local level but did not get justice. This is what led us to take the step,” said a protester. “We are farmers who cultivate in Maharashtra itself. While vendors from other states can sell their produce in the commercial capital, the farmers of the state have to face hurdles,” he said.
Another farmer said: “Back in the village, the income from farm produce is not commensurate to the quality of the produce. So, the farmers pool in their resources and come to Mumbai in tempos for selling commodities, on a weekly basis. But if we are stopped from doing that also, where does one go?”. State officials said the allegations would be looked into.