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Hazare backs Maharashtra farmers' stir as tension simmers

November 14, 2012 12:50 IST
Extending his support to the "justful" cause of sugarcane growers in Maharashtra, social activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday condemned the firing incident in Sangli district and accused the state government of turning this year's Diwali "black" for protesting farmers.

Speaking to PTI at his native Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare said the stand taken by MP and 'Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna' leader Raju Shetty was "justful" but said the farmers should stay away from violence or it will harm their movement. "By firing on farmers, the government tried to suppress their agitation...This will always be remembered as a 'Black Diwali'," he said.

The Gandhian also flayed Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar's remarks against Shetty and held him responsible for the present agrarian crisis.

A farmer was killed in police firing in Sangli on Monday after a group of peasants tried to lock a police team inside a hotel at Nandre village after learning that Shetty was detained in Pune district.

Shetty was spearheading the agitation of farmers against refusal of cooperative sugar factories in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra to give Rs 3,000 per ton as first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. Factories have agreed to pay Rs 2,300 per ton.

His detention sparked large-scale violence with protesting farmers torching two state transport buses and a police jeep in Pune district. Several buses were also damaged in the protests.

Farmers had staged road blockades at various places in western Maharashtra as per the appeal made by the farmers' leader.
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