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Farmers’ stir pushes up prices

A labourer rests on sacks of vegetables in Punjab’s Patiala as the farmers’ strike entered the second day on Saturday.

A labourer rests on sacks of vegetables in Punjab’s Patiala as the farmers’ strike entered the second day on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Suicide of two farmers in Madhya Pradesh underlines severity of agrarian crisis

Two debt-ridden farmers from Madhya Pradesh committed suicide on Friday, drawing sharp attention to the on-going agrarian crisis even as the farmers’ strike or ‘gaon bandh’ in northern and central States entered its second day.

Retail prices of vegetables shot up in some cities and fresh supply of farm produce was hit with a Left-affiliated body saying the stir would intensify from June 5.

In political reactions to the protest, BJP leaders on Saturday dismissed it as an unnecessary “media stunt” while Congress leaders spoke in solidarity with the farmers.

In Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district, home district of the State’s Agriculture Minister Gaurishanker Bisen, police said a farmer Dhannalal Bopchey consumed poisonous substances on June 1 and later died in hospital. The local tehsildar told The Hindu that the farmer had loans worth at least ₹1.5 lakh, and had recently faced a crop failure. In Khandwa district, a 55-year old farmer Jaipal Singh consumed pesticide on Friday.

Dismissing the farmers’ protests, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said, “To get the media’s spotlight, people are doing stunts, trying to do something unique.”

 

‘Only a few’

Speaking at an event in Patna, he said, “There are 14 crore farmers in the country and among them there is the possibility of a few thousand who do this to appear in the media.”

Echoing the party line, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, “They (farmers) are unnecessarily protesting. Not selling vegetables and milk would only result in their own loss.”

However, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled to kick off the party’s campaign for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh polls at a rally on the first anniversary of the Mandsaur farmer deaths, tweeted: “Everyday, 35 farmers in our country commit suicide. Our farmer brothers are forced to go on a 10 day strike to draw the central government’s attention towards the agrarian crisis.” .

Saying that the strike was a “direct affirmation of the Kisan Virodhi policies” of the Modi government, a statement by Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the MP State government was “trying to suppress the protests by using illegal means.”

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the farming community faced a crisis due to the indifferent attitude of the Centre. “The BJP government had failed to provide any succour to the beleaguered farmers, who were unable to make both ends meet due to its antagonistic policies,” he said.

Supplies drop

Meanwhile, prices of perishables rose in some cities of Punjab, Haryana and M.P. as fresh supplies dipped. In Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, Milk Federation manager M. Satish said supplies dropped by 3,300 litres on Friday.

In Chandigarh, local traders said the retail price of vegetables has started to soar due to lower arrivals. Tomato, which was being sold between ₹10-12 per kg couple of days ago has now surged to ₹20-25 per kg.

Farmers continued to hold protests at several places in Punjab, including Nabha, Ludhiana, Muktsar and Ferozepur. Reports said farmers put up barricades to prevent supply of vegetables and milk entering cities.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:03:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/farmers-stir-pushes-up-prices/article24069497.ece

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