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Anna Hazare backs Maharashtra farmers’ strike

IANS | Ralegan-Siddhi (Maharashtra) |

Social activist Anna Hazare extended his support to the indefinite strike of farmers which entered the second day on Friday.

But concerned over the violence witnessed on the first day, he urged farmers to carry out their agitation peacefully without causing damage to public or private properties.

"I support the farmers' cause, but I appeal to them to carry out the agitation peacefully. I am prepared to intervene on their behalf with the government and resolve the issue," Hazare said in a statement.

Over half a million farmers across Maharashtra, barring the coastal Konkan, have resorted to an unprecedented strike, which was marred by several violent incidents on Thursday.

Major cities like Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and others have started feeling the pinch of the strike with shortages looming ahead coupled with spiraling prices of essentials like milk, fresh fruits, vegetables and even foodgrains.

The farmers are demanding a complete waiver of farm loans, free electricity, appropriate remunerative prices for their produce, grants for irrigation, pension for farmers who are 60 years and above, and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

They continued to hold agitations, protest marches and processions at various government and APMC offices to press for their demands even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said talks with the farmers leaders will continue to hammer out a solution.

On Thursday, Fadnavis accused the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine of allegedly inciting the farmers.

The Shiv Sena asked the Bharatiya Janata Party to heed the farmers' demands and take urgent steps. Fadnavis said the government was "aware of its responsibility" and expected the same from its ally, the Sena.

As the strike progressed into the second day on Friday, movement of agricultural goods has been affected. Most APMC markets wore a desolate look.