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Behind farmers’ tractor march in Haryana, a Bhagat Singh fan

Mandeep Nathwan had raised the drugs issue too which had led to Anil Vij- SP Sangeeta Kalia spat in 2015.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
May 27, 2020 11:33:18 pm
Angry farmers force rethink: Khattar govt softens paddy diversification order Around four years back, Mandeep formed Kisan Sanghrash Samiti which is mainly active in Fatehabad district to raise concerns of farmers.

Behind the tractor march in Fatehabad by farmers against the restrictions on paddy cultivation was a 42-year-old activist, Mandeep Nathwan. A day after the march on Monday, the Haryana government lifted most of the restrictions.

Mandeep had earlier hit the headlines in 2015 after he raised the drugs issue, which had led to a spat between then Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij and the then Fatehabad SP Sangeeta Kalia in public view at a meeting. Later, Kalia was transferred from Fatehabad.

A farmer from Nathwan village of Fatehabad district, Mandeep turned into an activist after he went to martyr Bhagat Singh’s ancestral village Khatkar Kalan in Punjab in 2007 on latter’s 100th birth anniversary. “As many as 400 youths from my area had gone to Khatkar Kalan in trains. Then I became a fan of Bhagat Singh’s principles and resolved to fight for common man,” recalls Mandeep, a matriculate.

Mandeep started mobilizing youths against the drugs in Fatehabad district, which shares borders with Punjab. With a team of almost 100 activists of his Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujawan Sabha, Mandeep toured villages to oppose drug mafia. “The women of Alikan village told us how the illegal liquor vends were all around there. The drug mafia was bent upon to spoil the lives of youths. Through a letter we had complained to the SP Fatehabad but when the mafia was not curbed, I had complained to the district public relations and grievances committee headed by Anil Vij,” says Mandeep.

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In the meeting, Mandeep had openly complained how the police had failed to curb the illegal liquor. “When the NGO (Mandeep) complained about the sale of illegal liquor, the SP had started threatening its workers,” Vij had later told the state Assembly amid support from Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar over the issue.

“Whatever so, then the police had tightened the noose on the sellers of illicit liquor and other intoxicating substances,” recalls Mandeep with a sense of satisfaction.

Around four years back, Mandeep formed Kisan Sanghrash Samiti which is mainly active in Fatehabad district to raise concerns of farmers. When the issue related to restrictions on paddy arose, Mandeep was made convener of ‘Kheti Bachao Committee’ which held a tractor march on Monday.

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“We too feel that water conservation is need of the hour. But the government must think about the farmers too who don’t have other options of income than farming. Even our neighbouring sugar mill in Bhuna is not functional. Instead of imposing ban on paddy cultivation, the government should give incentive to those farmers who sow varieties of paddy which requires less water. Procurement of alternative crops must be ensured at fair prices,” says Mandeep.

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First published on: 27-05-2020 at 11:33:18 pm

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