Published On : Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

Maharashtra farmers set to launch fresh agitation from 1 June

Mumbai: The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, a farmers’ organization affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), will launch yet another protest on farm issues from 1 June to mark the first anniversary of the Maharashtra farmers’ strike.

The Maharashtra state council of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha took this decision at its meeting in Pune on Tuesday. Ashok Dhawle, president of the Kisan Sabha, said “the historic farmers’ strike launched on 1 June has had a nation-wide impact and raised several demands of farmers which still remain unaddressed.”

“Though the strike was called off after the state government promised to address the demands, farmers are now feeling that they have been cheated. Therefore, we plan to resume the protest on the same day this year to demand implementation of the promises made by the government and raise other issues of farmers,” Dhawle said.

The Kisan Sabha will seek active cooperation of like-minded organizations in this protest, he added. He said the government had not fulfilled the promises made to the representatives of farmers and tribals to end the farmers’ long march from Nashik to Mumbai in March this year. The long march was also led by the Kisan Sabha.

High on the Kisan Sabha’s charter of demands is the implementation of the recommendations made by the M. S. Swaminathan Commission in 2006, as well as a complete loan waiver and electricity bill waiver without riders, legislating a minimum support price that is one-and-a-half times the cost of production of farm produce, effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights ) Act, 2006, and pension for farmers and farm labourers.

In the run-up to 1 June, the Kisan Sabha plans to collect 100 million signatures of farmers, farm labourers and tribals on a memorandum of demands that will be sent to the Prime Minister’s office. The Kisan Sabha would then decide whether to organize a nation-wide protest.

In Maharashtra alone, the Kisan Sabha aims to collect 2 million signatures, according to Dhawle. On 1 June, the Kisan Sabha plans to stage demonstrations at all district administration offices in Maharashtra. Ajit Nawle, secretary, Maharashtra unit of the Kisan Sabha, said the organization would reach out to other like-minded groups, activists, writers, thinkers and all those committed to the farmers’ cause to collect signatures and build the momentum for the protest.

On 1 June 2017, farmers in Puntamba village of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra launched an unprecedented strike cutting off supplies of vegetables, fruits, milk, poultry products, and other farm produce from farms to mandis and agriculture produce markets in cities. The strike soon spread to other districts and took a violent turn in Ahmednagar, Nashik, Pune, Kolhapur and Solapur. By 8 June, some of the farmers’ organizations called off the strike while powerful groups in Nashik and Thane districts continued the protest.

On 24 June, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis declared a Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver scheme with a cap of Rs1.5 lakh per account. But sporadic protests have continued since then for a complete loan waiver and other demands.