Farmers today stopped the supply of vegetables, fruits, milk and other items to various cities of Punjab and Haryana as part of a nationwide strike against alleged anti-farmer policies of the Centre.
“We are getting very good response from fellow farmers for their support to this agitation. At majority of places in the state, farmers have stopped bringing vegetables, milk and other items to the cities for sale,” claimed Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
“No farmer is being forced by anyone to stop bringing their produce. The farmers have so much anger against the central government that they became a part of this agitation on their own,” said Rajewal.
The decision to stop supplies starting from June 1 till June 10 was taken by farmers under the banner of Kisan Ekta Manch and Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh.
A meeting of the coordination committee of these two farmers’ organisations, which are umbrella bodies of 172 farmers’ outfits, was held here last month to give final shape to the programme.
Rajewal claimed that not only in Punjab and Haryana, farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and some other states were also not selling their produce in cities.
“During the 10-day long protest, the farmers will stay in their villages and will not go to cities for supplying their produce,” he said.
“However, they can sell their produce among villagers,” he said, adding that the first day of their agitation had been peaceful so far.
Similar reports emerged from neighbouring Haryana where farmers at several places stopped supplies to cities.
“Farmers in Haryana were also supporting us and have stopped supplying vegetables, milk and other items,” said BKU Haryana president Gurnam Singh Chanduni.
They were critical of the central government for allegedly not addressing their issues pertaining to low income, increasing number of farmers’ suicides and rising debt, he said.
“We have also been demanding minimum income guarantee scheme, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and waiver of farmers’ debt,” said Rajewal.
“We were forced to take this decision as the central government failed to help farming community which was in the crisis at this moment,” Rajewal alleged.
In Punjab and Haryana, farmers’ outfits like BKU Rajewal, BKU Sidhupur, BKU Haryana have participated in this agitation.
Meanwhile, vegetable sellers at several places of the two states feared that prices of vegetables could go up if fresh supplies did not come in the market.
There were also reports from some places in Punjab suggesting that consumers started purchasing vegetables in bulk in the wake of farmers’ protest.
At some places in Punjab, some farmers even threw vegetables and milk on road in a symbolic protest.