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Maharashtra farmers end strike after 2 days, 1 death

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Mumbai: After keeping the state on tenterhooks for 48 hours, Maharashtra farmers called off their ‘strike’ early on Saturday following ‘satisfactory’ talks with the state government.

The development came after around five hours of marathon negotiations between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the leaders of the Kisan Kranti core committee, which ended here early on Saturday.

“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.

The government will compensate the family of Ashok More, who lost his life during the agitation.

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.

All plans to intensify the strike, including the Maharashtra Bandh on Monday, lockdown of government offices on Tuesday and ‘dharna’ protests outside all legislators and ministers offices on Wednesday, stand cancelled.

Over half a million farmers in the state were practically on the streets since Thursday midnight.

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

The move came two days after an unprecedented and violent strike by Maharashtra’s farmers which claimed the life of one agriculturist, Ashok More, allegedly due to police caning on Thursday to which he succumbed on Friday.

The decision was greeted with bursting of crackers and jubilant pre-dawn celebrations in thousands of villages as the farmers prepared to return to their daily routine after two days of strike.

Kisan Kranti leaders assured that supplies of fresh milk, fruits, vegetables and even foodgrains, which had been severely disrupted to urban and semi-urban centres, shall resume immediately.

However, it would take a couple of days for things to come back on track but they expressed confidence that by Monday complete normalcy would return in wholesale, retail markets and street corner vegetable sellers.

Since Thursday, June 1, major cities like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and others dependent on farm produce for their daily needs, felt the sharp pinch of shortages coupled with spiralling prices of essentials.

Besides the soaring prices of fresh milk, fruits and vegetables, which had doubled in some markets, the impact spilled over to the prices of mutton, chicken, eggs, fish and cold storage products which rose sharply by over 30-40 per cent.

The farmers strike elicited support from the ruling ally Shiv Sena, opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Aam Aadmi Party, Maharashtra Trade Unions Joint Action Committee, leftist parties, NGOs and even veteran social crusader Kisan Baburao, alias Anna Hazare and the powerful Warkari community.

The two-day strike across the state saw angry farmers emptying tankers carrying several lakh litres of milk and thousands of kilos of perishable fruits and vegetables on the roads, railway lines, highways etc to register their protest.

IANS

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