Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) chief Raju Shetti’s call to milk farmers for blocking highways caused traffic snarls at several places across the State on Thursday.

As the agitation entered its fourth day, milk farmers and SSS activists, along with their livestock, held up vehicular movement for hours at Kini toll plaza on the Pune-Bengaluru highway.

Despite Mr. Shetti’s appeal for restraint, three State transport buses were vandalised in Buldhana district by SSS activists, while farmers with their livestock blocked Vairag-Madha road in Solapur.

Road blocks were staged at Ridhore in Solapur district, while 1,500 litres of milk were emptied in Sangli district. Similarly at Shahada tehsil in Nandurbar, the police had to detain SSS workers to allow vehicles to pass.

In Yavatmal and Washim, farmers bathed livestock with milk. Political parties backed the agitation at Jamkhed in Ahmednagar.

Hundreds, especially in Nanded and Ahmednagar, were detained by the police, while in Nashik, all members of the SSS were held in preventive custody.

Pune dairies hit

While the milk supply to Mumbai and Thane was not affected, dairies in Pune bore the brunt.

Chitale dairy, one of the city’s largest milk suppliers, ceased supply stating its buffer stock had been exhausted. “There was no milk distribution today as our reserves have been spent, and there was no procurement in our headquarters in Sangli district,” Kedar Chitale, partner, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, told
The Hindu

Vishnu Hinge, chairman of Katraj dairy, another milk supplier to Pune, said collections are going on smoothly.

Police escort

Nearly 130 tankers with an average milk capacity of 10,000 litres each have managed to ply under police protection since the start of the agitation on Monday, the Pune Rural police said.

“On Wednesday night, 52 tankers from Solapur, Daund, and Indapur reached Pune under police cover, bringing in over five lakh litres of milk,” Inspector Suraj Bandgar said. Mr. Bandgar said the escort arrangement – one police vehicle in front of the tanker and one behind it – has deterred the agitators so far.

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