MUMBAI: Two sugarcane farmers were injured in police firing when an agitation turned violent in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district on Wednesday.
Farmers have been demonstrating at the Gangamai Sugar Mill at Shevgaon since Tuesday, demanding a price of Rs 3,100 per tonne for sugarcane. They had resorted to road blockades in Shevgaon block. A similar agitation last week was contained when police pacified the protestors. However, on Wednesday, police arrested 13 farmers who participated in Tuesday’s agitation, which enraged the protestors, who then took to burning vehicles and stone-pelting at various places in the district.
“When the mob turned violent, the police resorted to caning, use of tear gas and pump action gun. The mob retaliated and two constables received grievous injuries. Two farmers, Uddhav Mapari, 32, and Baburao Dukre, 45, were injured after being struck by pump action gun pellets. They have been admitted to Maxcare Hospital in Ahmednagar,” said Ranjan Kumar Sharma, Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police.
“We plan to conduct a meeting with officers of the Gangamai Sugar Mill, farmers’ leaders and government officials to resolve the issue,” Sharma said.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday demanded a judicial probe and suspension of the police officer responsible for the firing. “Government is ignoring the just demands of farmers and firing bullets when they agitate. We demand a judicial probe into the incident,” said NCP State President Sunil Tatkare. NCP leader and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde demanded suspension of the Police Superintendent responsible for the firing.
Meanwhile, State BJP Spokesperson Madhav Bhandari blamed the Left-wing organisations. “Wednesday’s incident is unfortunate. But it should be noted that Naxal-sympathetic Leftist elements are instigating violence at the farmers’ agitations across the State. They tried to do it earlier, but failed. They have started again,” Bhandari said.
Minister for Cooperatives Subhash Deshmukh appealed the farmers not to resort to violent agitation and instead, come forward for discussions. “The Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane is up by Rs 250 compared to last year. But citing the hike in sugar prices, farmers demand more. Everybody agreed to a Rs 100-hike in FRP during a meeting at Kolhapur. But now, the farmers are demanding Rs 3,100 instead of an FRP of Rs 2,700,” Deshmukh said.
Farmers across the State have been agitating over the issue. Farmers and police battled in Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli districts in the last couple of days. A police jeep was set on fire, several State-run buses were damaged and policemen were stoned after they lathi-charged protesting crowds on Tuesday in Sangli.