The pan-India protest by farmers entered the fifth day today but differences within the farmers have resulted in little attention from the government towards their cause.
The pan-India protest by farmers entered the fifth day today but differences within the farmers have resulted in little attention from the government towards their cause. As a result, farmers in Punjab have announced to cut short their agitation by four days and decided to call it off on June 6, the day Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh to meet the farmers to mark the first anniversary of violence that left at least 6 farmers dead.
The announcement was made by farmer union leaders and the Punjab Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA). Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal), said that the protest was causing differences among the farmers and even leading to instances of violence. Therefore, “we have decided to continue our protest till June 6 only”.
Reports coming from different parts of the country further suggest that the protests by farmers has only led to minimal impact on prices of commodities. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where farmers have been protesting since June 1, prices of vegetables, fruits and milk have gone marginally high. In Madhya Pradesh, reports say that many areas are facing shortages of vegetables and milk, but there is no crisis-like situation.
The farmers had on June 1 launched a ten-day stir against the Centre to protest against its poor policies that have been causing distress among the farmers. The farmers are demanding complete loan waiver, minimum support price, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and adequate compensation for their damaged crops. According to the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, around 150 farmers’ unions had vowed to support the agitation who have also for a Bharat Bandh on June 10 to pay tribute the farmers who were killed in police firing in Mandsaur on June 6 last year.
Here are the Top Developments in the ongoing farmers’ strike:
1. In Maharashtra, differences between farmers’ bodies on Monday forced many of the leaders — who now say that the ongoing strike is a part of a well-entrenched conspiracy — to keep themselves away from the protest. Kolhapur-based farmer leader Ragunath Patil said that the protest was bound to fail as it was not well thought of. Patil, who heads Swabhimani Sanghatana, said that the protest will only become successful when farmers manage to create scarcity of commodities. He said that dairies are well stocked with milk powder. “So, farmers stalling supplies will have little or no effect,” he said.
2. Swabhimani Paksha leader and Hatkanangle Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti attributed the failure of the strike to poor leadership. He said that farmers ‘do not trust the present leadership’. “That is the reason they have not taken part in the strike,” he said.
3. In Rajasthan too, the internal rift within the farmers bodies have failed to affect the supply of milk. However, reports suggest that agitators in different parts of the state stopped the movement of dairy trucks and even forced farmers to spill milk on roads. On Monday, the Jaipur dairy said that it had to stop the supply of ‘Gold’ milk to ensure that the supply of other products doesn’t suffer.
4. Several members of the farmers’ outfits said that individual stalls set up by farmers have benefited them directly and helped in checking black marketing. Ranjit Singh Raju, president of the Kisan Bachao Desh Bachao initiative, said that volunteers have come forward to help farmers set up their stalls where they are directly selling their produce. “The situation is comparatively better today as farmers are coming in large numbers to sell their produce,” Rahul Tanwar, president of Jaipur fruit and wholesalers’ association.
5. In Punjab, Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) said that the farmers will end their protest on June 6 after paying tribute to the farmers who were killed on June 6 last year in Mandsaur which was the epicentre of the farmers’ protest in 2017. “The stir is causing loss to the dairy farmers and vegetable growers. We want everything to be done in a peaceful manner, our fight is with the Centre and not with the farmers.” The decision to call off the strike was taken during in consultation with the PDFA and other farmers’ unions.
6. Daljit Singh, president of PDFA, said that commercial dairy farmers are facing huge losses as they can’t stock milk for ten days. “The decision (to call off strike) by unions is a huge relief for us.”
7. Sarbhan Singh, president of Punjab Bavria Samaj, said that members of the community only do vegetable farming and they are ‘small, marginal farmers’. “We are not with this bandh call. So who are these protestors?” The actual dairy and vegetable farmers are not the part of the protest.”