Farmers protests in Maharashtra turn violent


Sangli (Maharashtra) : A farmer was killed when police opened fire to control a crowd of farmland activists in Vasgade village in Sangli district Monday afternoon, police said.

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In a related incident, Pundalik Kokate, a farmer, was killed when a truck ran over him during an agitation in Kolhapur.

The ongoing six-day old farmers’ agitation turned violent Monday when police arrested Raju Shetti, MP and chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, who served as the leader of the farmers, and his close associate, Sada Khot.

The two men were arrested from Indapur, Pune district, Monday morning, just before they were set to launch a state-wide agitation to block all major roads and highways to press for their demands.

Shetti has been leading the farmers agitation demanding minimum support price of Rs.3,000 for sugarcane growers, rattling the sugar lobby of western Maharashtra, controlled mostly by Nationalist Congress Party and Congress politicians.

Opposing the arrests, angry mobs of agitating farmers pelted stones and attacked a police van, while law-enforcers burst teargas shells and later opened fire in the air to control the mobs in Sangli district.

However, one of the agitators here, identified as Chandrakant Nalawade, sustained a bullet injury and later succumbed, a Sangli district police official told IANS.

The agitation by sugarcane farmers in the state entered the sixth day Monday. In parts of Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts of western Maharashtra, the protests Monday turned violent.

Farmers staged road blocks, completely stopping incoming and outbound traffic on the Pune-Bangalore highway, and also in the three districts.

Several thousands of vehicles and passengers were stranded on all routes as the agitators attacked some vehicles and torched two police vehicles.

At least six state transport buses were damaged.