Mumbai: Protests by farmers in Maharashtra crippled food and milk supply as the strike entered its second day on Friday. Farmers have been agitating to demand a crop loan waiver and better procurement rates.
Rates of vegetables rose by 40% in the wholesale market on Friday morning, as farmers blocked the supply trucks.
“Only 5% of the vegetable trucks that arrived in Vashi market were from Maharashtra. The rest were from outside the state. At present, only the wholesale markets in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur are open. The rest are all closed due to the agitation,” Sanjay Pansare of Vashi APMC told News 18.
As farmers continues their protest, social activist Anna Hazare offered to hold talks with the government on their behalf. Hazare had met CM Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday night, and on Friday, appealed to the farmers’ leader to approach him with their grievances.
“There are limits to farmers’ tolerance. When the helpless farmer hits the street, the government ought to treat him sympathetically. If not, then they are forced to take law in their hands. I have heard the grievances raised by the farmers, and I agree with them,” said Anna Hazare.
Many political parties including Congress, NCP have supported the agitation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, said the protests were an opposition ploy to target the government. “We are sympathetic towards the farmers’ issues, and we are willing to hold talks with them,” he said. He said that the protesters pelted stones at the police at a few places.
He also accused Shetkari Sanghatana’s Raju Shetti of arm twisting the farmers. “Agitation should be voluntary. Some people with vested interests are holding the farmers to ransom. By stopping the trucks of vegetables and milk, they are causing more losses to the farmers,” he said.
Meanwhile, police said that the protests have been largely peaceful but there have been a few stray cases of violence. Farmers have hit the streets at many places in the State. Six cases have been registered in Pune rural area. Close to 13 farmers have been arrested, police said.
Ahmednagar rural police reported an incident of violence where protesters broke the glass of a state transport bus. Some protesters reportedly burnt the effigy of a local BJP spokesperson in Ahmednagar. “We have started providing police escort to milk tankers and vegetables which are moving towards Mumbai,” a police officer from Pune said.