National

Activists spill milk across Gujarat as police detain hundreds

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 05, 2017

Gujarat, which led India’s White Revolution since the 1960s and made the country world’s largest milk producer, on Wednesday, saw milk literally flowing freely on the roads as petty politics in the state, which goes to Assembly elections by December 2017, took precedence over public welfare.

Police, on Wednesday, detained hundreds of activists from across Gujarat after they wasted thousands of litres of milk on the roads, demanding waiver of all farmers’ loans in the state which has seen a sudden spurt in prices of essential commodities—coriander selling at Rs.200/kg, and tomato and chilly at Rs. 100/kg-- and revival of multiple agitations lying dormant for months.

The activists dubbed the Wednesday agitation as “Doodhbandi” and “Doodh Roko”.

The activists, led by Kshatriya Thakore Sena founder Alpesh Thakore—who also doubles as convener of OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch, formed about two years ago to counter the Hardik Patel-led Patidar outfit—were detained across various districts. He also announced to intensify the agitation from July 7 by preventing supply of fruits, vegetables and foodgrain if the farmers’ loans were not waived soon.

Alpesh, along with nearly 50 supporters, was detained by in Ahmedabad after his group blocked roads and disposed off hundreds of litres of milk on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway near Zydus Hospital. In various towns, hundreds others were detained by the police. He also appealed to more than 15 lakh milk farmers not to supply milk to dairies for processing.

Interestingly, the Gujarat Congress suspects Alpesh, son of a Congress leader, of leading the ruling BJP’s B-Team to slice off the Congress vote-bank to compensate for any potential loss caused by the Patel votes. The state Congress was preparing to launch a state-wide farmers’ agitation and organize rallies in August to support loan waivers.

A few weeks ago, his outfit was supposed to launch a political party and contest around 80 out of 182 Assembly seats. By launching this agitation, he sought to steal the thunder from the sails of the Congress which has invited the party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to lead agitation in the next few weeks.

Shankar Chaudhary, Gujarat Minister of State for Health and also Chairman of Banas Dairy, said the state had enough milk stocks and supply will not be affected. He appealed to milk farmers to continue supplying milk to the dairies.

The Vijay Rupani Government may soon have to grapple with revival of multiple agitations, as the BJP did last year. For, the two factions of the Patels—the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and its rival Sardar Patel Group—united recently and announced to revive their pro-quota agitation soon.

Meanwhile, the strike of textile and apparel merchants in Surat, protesting against the GST, entered the third day on Wednesday. On Monday, police had lathi-charged them.

On the other hand, even Petrol Dealers Association said it would not procure fresh stocks of diesel and petrol from various oil marketing companies in view of the uncertainties caused by the implementation of GST and officials raiding petrol pumps in Maharashtra and other states on suspicion of under-supplies to customers.

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Published on July 05, 2017
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