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India: Maharashtra protestors call off onion agitation

The 5,000 farmers who were agitating for government intervention over the price of onions in Nashik, as reported yesterday in FreshPlaza, have called off their protest.

The growers, under the leadership of MP Raju Shetty, relented only after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan made a statement in the state assembly.

The onion farmers made their way through the city up to the state authority buildings on Monday, where they were stopped by the police. The farmers blocked the road and locked the in and out gates to the government premises, trapping the government employees along with visitors inside the buildings. Some employees managed to get out by jumping over an adjacent wall.

The police requested the agitators to let the women and the disabled go, but they initially refused, only allowing them to leave in the late evening.

The farmers were demanding a minimum support price for onions of Rs500 ($10US), abolishment of export duty, compilation of satellite information for onion crops, an internal railway facility for the transport of onions, and a subsidy on onion export.

In the evening, government official, Dr Nitin Mahajan spoke to the leaders of the agitation and asked them to withdraw, assuring them that the memorandum would be conveyed to state authorities.

However, even as talks ensued between state officials and the agriculture minister, the farmers refused to budge and decided to spend the night outside, cooking their evening meals by the roadside.

Police commissioner Kulwantkumar Sarangal and district collector P Vellarasu held another round of talks with senior leaders of the agitation and tried to convince them to call off the protest.

It was finally called off yesterday at 1pm local time, after it was promised that their demands would be considered by the end of the month.

MP Raju Shetty stated that the cessation of the protest may only be temporary and that if demands are not considered by March 30th a massive reaction can be expected throughout the region.


Publication date: 3/21/2012


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