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Maharashtra farmers end strike after CM Fadnavis promises to accept demands in late-night meeting

Maharashtra farmers decided to withdraw their agitation after holding a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who promised to take a series of measures to meet their demands.
India TV News Desk Mumbai June 03, 2017 10:22 IST
India TV News Desk

After two days of strike that hit the food supplies across Maharashtra, farmers from the state decided to withdraw their agitation after holding a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who promised to take a series of measures to meet their demands. A delegation of farmers from Puntambe village had come to Mumbai to meet Fadnavis last night after he invited them for discussion.

Fadnavis announced the decision through after a four-hour long discussion. 

"We are open to a farm loan waiver... We shall set up a committee for the purpose which will include farmers' representatives and take a decision by October 31," Fadnavis told mediapersons after the meeting.

Thereafter, Kisan Kranti leaders said that nearly 70 per cent of their demands have been met by the government and accordingly the 'successful strike' was called off immediately.

"The strike is withdrawn and there should not be any violent protests against state anymore," Fadnavis said.

The farmers went on a 'strike' from June 1 to press for their demands like loan waiver and free electricity. 

"The marginal farmers' outstanding loan will be waived. Necessary steps will be taken by October 31. The act of offering lower than minimum support price to farmers produce, it will be considered as criminal act and charges will be framed, are the demands state government has agreed to," Sandeep Gidde, who leads the delegation of Puntambe farmers told PTI today. 

Various organisations of farmers and small factions participated in the meeting. 

Meanwhile, a few group of farmers distanced themselves from the decision of calling off of the strike. 

The state government has also promised more reforms such as revising of milk prices to giving farmers a benefit, formation of state-level commission for agricultural costs and prices, appointment of independent observer on dairy business, setting up of more cold storages and agro-processing units, are the promises made by the state government, the chief minister said. 

The state government has also agreed to provide financial assistance to the family members of farmer Ashok More, who died on June 1 when police were dispersing the protesting mob, Fadnavis said. 

"Though, farmers' strike is withdrawn the state government has agreed to withdraw cases against genuine farmers alone. Those who were non-farmers and deliberately tried to create a ruckus will not be spared," he said. 

Big cities like Mumbai and Pune had started to face the threat of shortage of vegetables and milk. Farmers in Nashik, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Pune, Kolhapur and Wardha districts threw milk, foodgrains and vegetables on roads as a part of the protest. Vehicles carrying vegetables and fruits to Mumbai were stopped and ransacked. 

Farmers' demands

Over half a million farmers across Maharashtra, barring the coastal Konkan, resorted to a 48-hour unprecedented strike. 

The farmers were demanding a complete waiver of farm loans, free electricity, appropriate remunerative prices for their produce, grants for irrigation, pension for farmers who are 60 years and above, and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations. 

In Nashik, farmers were also opposing the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur 'Samruddhi Corridor' (expressway), which will require acquisition of farmland.

On Thursday and Friday, they held agitation, protest marches and processions at various government and APMC offices to press for their demands.

Farmers in the state faced three consecutive droughts before a good monsoon last year. At present they are staring at huge losses as tur daal prices have crashed due to a bumper crop this time. 

Opposition Congress, NCP, as well as ruling coalition partner Shiv Sena have supported the agitation, which is mainly for the demand of loan waiver. 

On Thursday, Fadnavis had accused the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine of allegedly inciting the farmers.

(With PTI inputs)