At least seven sugarcane farmers, who were demanding the price of Rs. 3,100 per tonne for their produce, were brutally injured after the police started firing plastic bullets and resorted to lathi charge in Shevgaon region of Maharashtra. Hundreds of farmers had gathered in protest, demanding an increase in the fair and remunerative price (FRP) which has been decided as Rs. 2,550 for the current season.
The agitations which have been going on in various parts of Maharashtra for last few weeks, took a violent turn in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Solapur districts, especially the Shevgaon-Paithan stretch after the state machinery decided to interfere in the protest.
The agitators, led by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) and other farmer outfits, burned tyres and smashed road barricades. After an absurd complaint was lodged against the protesters on Tuesday, 13 SSS leaders were taken into custody. The complaint read that the commuters faced major problems as the protesters had blocked the roads connecting the Ahmednagar and Aurangabad districts.
Reports from the Paithan region showed that mills in these areas had promised to pay Rs. 2,500 per tonne to the farmers for cane last year. But the farmers got only Rs. 2,300 per tonne, with a payment of Rs 34 crore is still pending.
Most of the mills in the Paithan region are privately owned and the farmers were constantly raising their voices against the mills indulging in unfair practices. Following Wednesday’s protest, the mills have declared to collect the produce at price of Rs. 2,525 per tonne, which is lesser than the earlier decided FRP of Rs. 2,550.
Condemning the brutal attack on farmers who were protesting for their rights, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said in a statement that “The BJP-led state government was given enough time for negotiations to settle their demands. But it did nothing of the kind and instead, has let loose the police on the fighting peasants.”
The AIKS has put forward two demands: First, the state government must give immediate and adequate compensation to all the farmers injured in the police attack and must meet all their medical expenses and second, the state government must take immediate steps to ensure that the remunerative price at one and a half times the cost of production be given to the farmers growing sugarcane and all other crops.
Meanwhile, demanding better produce prices, sugarcane farmers in Narasinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh have also demonstrated on Wednesday. Over 50% of the sugarcane’s total cultivation in Madhya Pradesh possesses Narsinghpur.
Currently, the farmers are getting only Rs. 270 per quintal for sugarcane from traders and sugar mills, whereas, they demand Rs. 350 to Rs. 400 for the same amount, a report from Narasinghpur says.
The farmers, who have been voicing their demands for a long time, on Saturday, collected blood samples and scripted their demands in blood on the district collectorate’s walls.
Using social media platforms and Whatsapp, the farmers mobilized and consolidated for their rights. However, Narasinghpur district administration, to suppress the farmers’ movement, banned the residents from posting or forwarding “provocative” messages and photographs on these platforms until early next year.
Earlier in June this year, BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government barbarically suppressed farmers’ movement and it resulted in the killing of seven farmers. And this isn't just the picture in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Farmers across the country are in deep crisis and they are strongly voicing their demands against the BJP-led Centre and its anti-farmer and pro-corporate policies.
Recently, addressing the issues of farmers, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, the coalition of more than 180 peasantry organisations, completed a nationwide march “Kisan Mukti Yatra” and a campaign “Kisan Ki Loot”. The Yatras and campaign have reached out to more than 50 lakh farmers from various farming sectors across the country and mobilized the farmers and agricultural workers for the “Kisan Mukti Sansad” which is scheduled on November 20-21.
Raising their rights and demands, the farmers and agricultural workers across the country are all set to flood in the streets of the Delhi on November 20-21 for the Kisan Mukti Sansad.