Talking to reporters outside the jail, where he was kept in judicial custody, Shetty said, “We will not stop till justice is given to farmers. We will fight till we are satisfied with the ‘price per tonne’ that would be given to us for the first instalment. The state has been using police force as an instrument to divide and deter farmers. But this fight is against ‘sugar mafia’ and not police. I have always appealed for a non-violent agitation and I still say that agitation should be carried out using peaceful means.”
Farmers have been demanding at least Rs 3,000 per tonne as first instalment payment, while sugar factories in the region have decided to pay them Rs 2,300 per tonne.
Spelling the direction of his movement, Shetty said, “The fight will continue. We welcome all those who are extending support to us. There are many workers’ unions. Similarly, even if there are three unions representing farmers, the fact remains that the central element in all these unions is the farmer. We will continue to fight till the sugar factories — be it private or government owned — consult local sugarcane farmers in the vicinity and decide a ‘per tonne’ rate for the first lot that is agreeable to local farmers. Till then, we will keep our sugarcane in the farms.”
The agitation that started under the leadership of Shetty turned violent after his arrest in Indapur.
Two farmers — one in police firing — have been killed. “I had always appealed for a peaceful agitation. The chakka jam andolan was called for a day. The state government is entirely responsible for the violent turn that the agitation took after my arrest. I wanted to visit the house of the farmer who died in Indapur during the protest, but will not be able to go.”
He said he would will go to Mumbai to inquire about Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray’s health.