Mumbai, Nov 14: Several ministers in Maharashtra own sugar mills and this is the main reason why farmers are not getting a good price for the cane they cultivate, according to activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.
Today he posted the following queries on Twitter: "How many sugar mills in maharashtra owned by NCP men, BJP men, Cong people? Which ministers own sugar mills?" Kejriwal himself provided the answer to the questions by tweeting: "That data wud explain why govt not giving better sugarcane prices and favoring sugar mill owners."
The tweets were timely as farmers and members of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana blocked the Kolhapur-Gargoti road today, demanding a fair price for their produce. Police resorted to a lathi charge but the protesters allegedly responded by pelting stones at the cops and torching a police van.
Yesterday, the supporters of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana leader Raju Shetty turned violent after they heard about him being taken into preventive detention in Pune district.
Shetty has repeatedly urged cooperative sugar mills in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts to give farmers Rs 3,000 per tonne as first advance on sugarcane purchase. The mills are willing to give only Rs 2,300 per tonne.
With the protests against Shetty's detention spreading to other areas, police were forced to open fire on a mob in Sangli. One of the protesting farmers succumbed to bullet injuries.
Reports say another farmer was run over by a truck when he was staging a road roko alongwith his counterparts. The state transport corporation cancelled bus services on Ichalkaranji-Sangli and Pandharpur-Solapur routes as two buses were set ablaze in Pune district.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already held talks with Shetkari Sangathana leaders but the latter are still pressing for immediate implementation of the C Rangarajan committee recommendations. Today, the Sangathana's call for road blockades across western Maharashtra was heeded by farmers.