Farmers' protest enters day four: Mixed response; Union Minister Badal blames Congress for plight of peasants
The fourth day of the ongoing farmers' stir across several states saw a mixed impact with prices of agricultural produce including vegetables rising in some urban areas, remained normal in others.
BHOPAL/INDORE: The fourth day of the ongoing farmers' stir across several states saw a mixed impact with prices of agricultural produce including vegetables rising in some urban areas while their supply remained normal in others.
The situation was by and large peaceful.
Farmers in Punjab decided to call off their stir on June 6 even as the protest would continue in other states.
In Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur, where six people were killed in police firing on June 6 last year, the impact was palpable as only 200 farmers reached the local 'mandi' to sell their produce today, said an official.
"On normal days, over 4,000 farmers arrive at the mandi. Today only 200 farmers came in with their produce," said Mandsaur Krishi Upaj Mandi Inspector Balwant Singh Rathore.
Traders, however, claimed there was no shortage of fresh farm produce.
Bhagwandas Meghnani, president of Mandsaur's Wholesale Traders Union, said, "There is no shortage, as of now, because people had stored sufficient amount of vegetables ahead of the agitation. However, farmers from some areas are not arriving at the market."
However, in Indore the price of vegetables were rising.
President of the traders' union in Indore's Ahilyabai Holkar Vegetable Market, Sundardas Makhija, told PTI that the arrival in the mandi had reduced to half.
There is an average increase of 20 per cent in prices of tomatoes, lady finger, green chillies, bitter gourd and other vegetables, he said.
Makhija claimed the prices of vegetables had registered a decline during the first three days of the farmers' agitation as retailers and buyers had stored vegetables ahead of the agitation.
Bhopal's Krishi Upaj Mandi secretary Vinay Prakash Pateria claimed the arrival of grains, fruits and vegetables was normal.
Mohammed Abid, a wholesale trader in Bhopal's Nav Bahar Sabji Mandi, claimed the prices had, infact, come down.
The reports from markets in Neemuch, Jhabua and Ratlam also indicated normal arrival of vegetables.
In Athner town in Betul district, agitating farmers threw vegetables and poured milk on the streets, said Siddharth Priyadarshan, inspector in charge, Athner police station.
The Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh (RKMM), a federation of about 130 agitating farmers' organisations, staged a protest in Vidisha alleging harassment by the administration.
Inspector-General of Police (Intelligence) Makrand Deuskar told reporters that Madhya Pradesh remained by and large peaceful.
Police said the security had been beefed up at Pipliya Mandi of Mandsaur district ahead of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's public meeting on June 6.
State Congress chief Kamal Nath alleged the administration was trying to ensure that Gandhi's rally turns out to be a flop.
The Congress, however, came under attack from Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal who blamed the party's '70-year misrule' for the current plight of farmers.
Rahul Gandhi should first address the agrarian crisis in Punjab where farmers were committing suicide under Congress rule every day, before talking about transforming the entire nation, she said.
"They looted the nation and created policy paralysis. They are now fine talking about farmers. As far as Congress pointing out fingers to say anything is concerned, it is pot calling the kettle black," Badal told the media in New Delhi while highlighting the Union government's 4-year achievements in the food processing sector.
In Rajasthan's Jaipur, prices of vegetables rose amid disruptions in supplies and procurement of milk was also hit in some parts.
"Jaipur Dairy alone has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1 crore as 'anti-social elements' spilled nearly 60,000 litres of milk on roads. Twelve tankers were vandalised. Jaipur Dairy has lodged 8-9 FIRs for damaging and manhandling employees," Jaipur Dairy chairman Om Prakash Punia told PTI.
He said that problems were witnessed in Sikar, Chomu, Kaladera and parts of Jaipur.
"The prices of vegetables have increased by 25-30 per cent in the last three days because of restricted supply due to the farmers' agitation," a vegetable vendor at Muhana vegetable market said.
Meanwhile, a farmers' body functionary blamed "anti-social elements" for spilling milk on roads and disrupting procurement.
"Protests have been peaceful and successful. Anti-social elements are behind disrupting milk procurement and spilling it on roads. We have set up milk points for consumers outside city limits for urban population, a core committee member of the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh said.
Farmers in Punjab, meanwhile, have decided to call off their stir on June 6, after a meeting presided by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU-Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal and attended by other leaders.
Rajewal said the farmers in Punjab would start supplying vegetables and milk to the cities on Wednesday after paying tributes to six farmers killed in police firing during an agitation in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur on June 6 last year.
"But the stir would continue in other states till June 10," he said.
Meanwhile, the farmers held protests in various parts of Punjab and Haryana, with some dumping their produce on roads.
Traders said due to dwindling supplies of farm produce in many mandis, prices were rising.
At a few places in Punjab, including in Bathinda and Moga districts, arguments broke out between the traders and some farmer leaders as the former claimed that they were being stopped from selling the stocked fruits and vegetables.