Mumbai: An agitation by sugar cane farmers, who were demanding an increase in the remunerative price, took a violent turn in Shevgaon in Ahemdnagar district on Wednesday with the police firing plastic bullets, lobbing tear gas shells and resorting to a lathi charge.
Two farmers were injured in the firing while police officials were hit in stone pelting by the protesters. The Opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have demanded the resignation of the chief minister and the superintendent of police (SP).
The BJP, in turn, tried to digress from the issue by claiming the protest was not spontaneous but orchestrated by Naxalite outfits. The agitation was led by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) and other farmer outfits. The farmers, led by the SSS, have been demanding a price of Rs 3,100 per tonne from the owners of the Gangamai sugar factory in Shevgaon.
According to the police, the stand-off between the farmers and the factory owners had lingered during the week with SSS leaders and farmers staging road blockades to restrict the movement of trucks carrying sugarcane.
“Protestors had blocked the roads connecting Ahmednagar to Aurangabad. A complaint was lodged against the agitators on Tuesday and 13 activists of the SSS were taken into custody.
But the protest resumed on Wednesday morning with an increased ferocity — tyres were burnt and stones hurled at the police. As a result, we were compelled to take riot-control measures to rein in the unruly mob,” Ranjan Kumar Sharma, Ahmednagar District SP, stated in a written statement.
Following the arrest of the SSS leaders, mobs gave vent to their anger in a number of villages in Ahmednagar. A State Transport bus and a bullock cart was torched while some police vehicles were pelted with stones in Shevgaon.
Meanwhile, Supriya Sule, NCP Member of Parliament, has demanded the resignation of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis whereas Dhananjay Munde, the leader of the opposition, has demanded the resignation of the Ahmednagar SP.
“The BJP had demanded Rs 3400 per tonne for sugarcane when the party was in the opposition. The same BJP is now firing on farmers who are demanding Rs 3100 per tonne, and this is shameful,” said Munde.
Madhav Bhandari, BJP spokesperson, said, “Farmer organisations which enjoy the support of Naxalites are behind the agitation. They have also tried to create a law and order situation on social issues like Maratha reservation and loan waiver of farmers. They failed to rake up the reservation issue and hence deliberately stoked the remuneration demand to defame the BJP government,” claimed Bhandari.