Shiv Kumar Sharma, RKMM convenor, at press conference in Bhopal on Friday said, “We had set a few guidelines to prevent the protest from turning violent. The government usually tries to make protests violent. So, we decided to stick to the villages. We will not go to the cities and buy anything. Our motive is not to inconvenience anyone. The farmers simply want the attention of the administration.”

Farmers across the state of Maharashtra have decided to go on a strike again against the State government’s failure to solve their problems. According to member of Kisan Kranthi Jan Andolan member Advocate Kusum Jawant, the state wide strike will start from June 1 to June 10 and call of Bharat Bandh will be observed on June 10.

Speaking To The Citizen, All India Kisan Sabha leaders said that at the national level the Kisan Mahasangh has given a call for a farmer’s strike and that there will be major discussion to declare the future direction of their struggle.

Kisan Sabha threatened the government that if they fail to take cognizance of this protest, then they will intensify their agitation.

The All India Kisan Sabha held large gherao action at the district collectorates and tehsil offices all over Maharashtra. Thousands of farmers participated in these actions in about 25 districts of the state. These actions demanded the implementation of the assurances given by the BJP-led State government after the farmer’s strike last year and the unprecedented Kisan Long March earlier this year on issues like loan waiver, remunerative prices, land rights, increased pensions, etc.

At Akole tehsil in Ahmednagar district, over 5000 peasants and workers led by the CPI(M), AIKS and CITU held a large rally which broke into the gate of tehsil office and gheraoed it. Since milk has become a burning issue in the state, the farmers poured two pots of milk in the courtyard as a symbolic protest. The action here was led by AIKS President Dr. Ashok Dhawale, AIKS state general secretary Dr. Nawale, Sadashiv Sable, Namdev Bhangre and others.

Yogendra Yadav; founder of Swaraj Abhiyan said; “This is not our call to strike, but we extend our best wishes to any organisation working for farmers.”

The All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti met the President this week to request him to ensure that a week of the upcoming Parliament Session be dedicated to farmer issues.

On June 6, the federation will hold commemoration event at Mandsaur in MP where six farmers were killed in police firing during protests last year. There will also be a hunger strike on June 8 and on the last day of Bharat Bandh.

Speaking to the Citizen, Ashok Dhavale; the President of the AIKS said, “ We want the government to implement recommendations of Swaminathan committee, complete loan waiver to farmers. Seeds, fertilizers should be given at low cost and government should stop loot of farmers and if it doesn’t then they will intensify our protest.”

Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, who after quitting the BJP, joined the farmer leaders in announcing a countrywide general strike on June 10 if the demands aren’t met has warned, “farmers will stop sending crops and milk to the cities from June 1 to 10th of June across the country. On June 6, they will observe a non-cooperation day.”

“There are two streams in the farmer movement today,” said Shiv Kumar Sharma or “Kakkaji”, a convenor of the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh. “One is the nationalist and working only for the farmers. The other stream are political organisations that are looking to use farmers as a vote bank.”

“We have learnt about this bandh from the media and we had no other intimation of any kind,” said Yogendra Yadav, the founder of Swaraj Abhiyan. “This is not our call to strike, but we extend our best wishes to any organisation working for farmers.”

Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh mentioned on 2nd of June that the protest in various parts of country were attempts to get media attention, triggering demands by opposition parties for his removal.

“ Farmers opted for unusual deeds to draw the attention as they belong to organisations with only a few thousand members.”

“It requires some unusual deeds to appear in the media. The country has about 12-14 crore farmers. There will always be organisations with a following of a few thousand,” Singh told reporters at a press conference when asked about the agitation.

The Minister’s statement drew a sharp reaction from the opposition parties in Bihar and he was accused of being “insensitive” to the farmer’s plight and demanded his removal.

“It is the height of insensitivity on part of the Union Agriculture Minister at a time when farmers are under so much distress. He should be sacked immediately, RJD spokesman Manoj Jha told news agencies.

Congress legislature party leader in the State Assembly Sadanand Singh said, “the BJP has been ridiculing distressed farmers instead of mitigating their problems. Thirty-five farmers in the country commit suicide every 24 hours, but BJP government seems to be impervious to their plight.”