Maharashtra farmers warn to government of intensified stir, including rail/road blockades

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Maharashtra farmers warn of intensified stir, including rail/road blockades
Maharashtra farmers warn of intensified stir, including rail/road blockades

Mumbai : Virtually rejecting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' assurance on farm loan waiver, Maharashtra farmer leaders on Thursday issued a two-day ultimatum to the government to accept their demands, failing which they will intensify their stir with blockades of rail tracks and roads.

If the government failed to heed our demands, farmers will on Monday (June 12) take out 'morchas' (protest marches) to the respective collectorates and government offices in all districts, followed by statewide railway and road blockades on Tuesday (June 13), farmer leaders warned in Nashik.

They also plan a 'Maharashtra shutdown' on Monday, lockdown of several government offices and demonstrations outside offices of ministers and legislators. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana indicated the party will soon walk out of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance in Maharashtra.

A meeting of Kisan Kranti's Core Committee was held in Nashik this evening, where ruling ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana's Raju Shetti, Omprakash Babarao alias Bacchu Kadu, Raghunathdada Patil, Trade Unions Joint Action Committee (Maharashtra) Convener Vishwas Utagi and All India Kisan Sabha state General Secretary Anil Nawale were present.

The farmer leaders announced their future plans at the meeting. Pointing out that farmers in several states are agitating, Shetti urged them to conduct the agitation with such vigour that the powers that be in Delhi trembled, indicating parting of ways with the ruling alliance in Maharashtra.

"If the government does not listen to the farmers, just like the way Bhagat Singh lobbed a bomb (in the Constituent Assembly), I will also drop a bomb at the CM's residence," said independent legislator Kadu, who recently came into the limelight after calling Bharatiya Janata Party MP and former actress Hema Malini "a bumper drinker."

"The agitation is spreading across India. We support the demands for a complete debt waiver for all farmers with outstanding loans from district cooperative and nationalised banks, full implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan committee report and a Rs 5,000 monthly pension to all farmers as social security," demanded Utagi.

Farmers across the state -- barring urban or semi-urban centres like Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and others -- have been on a strike since June 1.

Several lakh farmers have taken to the streets with roadblocks, mock funerals of Fadnavis and the government, tonsuring of heads, and pouring/spilling tanker loads of fresh milk, fruit and vegetables on the roads, and other forms of agitation to highlight their demands.

Fadnavis announced on Tuesday that his government was working out the "biggest" farm loan waiver package in the state's history by October 31.

The agitation caused disruptions in supply of milk, fruit and vegetables from mofussil areas to urban markets, resulting in shortages and spiralling retail prices as the government made arrangements to procure the essentials through the railways from neighbouring Gujarat.