Updated: October 2, 2021 9:31:15 pm
Hours after farmers started gathering outside Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s house and residences of other MPs and MLAs to protest Centre’s decision to delay paddy procurement, the CM said the process will commence from Sunday.
The announcement came after Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and Agriculture Minister J P Dalal reached New Delhi along with a battery of top government officials to seek a solution to the mounting pressure from the farmers. Before leaving for the national capital, Khattar had said, “Farmers will not have to face any problem in paddy procurement.”
Meanwhile, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, in Delhi said, “The procurement (of Kharif crops) will start from tomorrow in Haryana as well as Punjab.”
He added, “Haryana’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and a delegation of ministers have come and met me. They said that their preparations for paddy procurement are already in place and thus, we decided that the procurement shall begin from tomorrow (Sunday) so that farmers do not face any inconvenience.”
After the meeting, Khattar said, “Throughout the day, they (farmers) held protests at several places across Haryana. We are also concerned and want the process to begin at the earliest. Thus, I, Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala, Agriculture Minister J P Dalal and various other MLAs had come to Delhi to meet the Union Ministers. Now, since a decision has been made that the procurement will begin from tomorrow (Sunday), I hope they (farmers) will withdraw their agitation.”
Earlier in the day, farmers across Haryana reached outside the residences of BJP and JJP MPs and MLAs, broke police barricades and demanded immediate commencement of the paddy procurement process. By evening, the farmers had erected tents outside the residences of Khattar, BJP MP (Sirsa) Sunita Duggal, Kurukshetra MLA Subhash Sudha, near Chautala’s residence and in other places, including Narwana, Fatehabad, Hisar, Hansi and Ambala.
Saturday was the second time in the last one month when farmers laid siege in Khattar’s constituency — Karnal. Earlier, protesting against police lathicharge at Bastara toll plaza on August 28 and demanding stern action against IAS officer Ayush Sinha for his “break-the-heads” remark, farmers had protested outside Karnal’s mini-secretariat for four days.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), Friday, had warned that if the government fails to begin the paddy procurement by the morning of October 2, they would reach the residences of BJP and JJP MLAs and MPs with their tractors and trolleys filled with paddy and camp there.
Apprehending law and order disruption, heavy police deployment was made outside the residences of Khattar in Karnal, Chautala in Sirsa and others in their respective constituencies. However, despite heavy police barricading, farmers broke the police cordons and reached outside the main gates of the residences.
To disperse the crowd, the police had to use water cannons at the farmers in Karnal but failed to stop them from reaching outside Khattar’s residence. Despite police presence, a bunch of protesters climbed onto the first floor of the CM’s residence and hoisted a Kisan-Ekta flag. They also shouted slogans.
Meanwhile, the police resorted to lathicharge on farmers near Chandimandir toll plaza on the Panchkula-Kalka-Shimla national highway when the protestors used tractors to break barricades and allegedly tried to run over personnel deployed on the highway. Several protestors were also detained.
Farmers have also camped outside the colony in Ambala, near Ambala-Delhi national highway where Haryana’s Home Minister Anil Vij resides. Farmers also broke police barricades outside BJP’s Sonipat MP Ramesh Kaushik’s residence and camped outside his home.
A senior Haryana government officer told The Indian Express, “Peaceful protests can be done by people but not in a violent manner. If anybody indulges in law and order disruption, legal action will be taken against them. We are closely monitoring the situation and adequate police deployment has been made at all the places, wherever required.”
Cashing in on the protests, Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, “This government has turned paddy procurement into a joke. The government had announced that procurement would start from September 25. Then, the start was shifted to October 1 and now the purchase has been postponed till October 11. Lakhs of quintals of paddy have been brought to the mandis of the state in tractors and trolleys by the farmers. The government should tell what the farmers should do with this crop and where to take them.”
He also said, “On one hand, the farmers are facing the brunt of the weather and on the other, the government’s flip-flop policies are creating problems for them. Due to excessive rains, standing crops got ruined and now farmers have to face the government’s delay in procurement. Weather still remains a challenge for farmers, who sit with paddy under the open sky in the markets. There is a constant danger that the crops may get damaged if it rains. Farmers are being looted by private agencies as they wait for government procurement to start because many are left with no other option but to sell their crops below MSP. The government should start procurement without any further delay and compensate the farmers who have sold the crops at a lower rate than the MSP.”
Hooda also said the government should make arrangements to drain water out from the fields.
Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Gurnam Singh Chaduni had said, “We had already warned the state government not to delay the paddy procurement. The government must immediately begin the process to avoid any further losses to the farmers. In case the government fails to begin the process immediately, they should brace for a massive agitation.”
Another BKU leader Jagdeep Singh Aulakh said, “Around 5,000-6,000 farmers shall be reaching Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence in Karnal since he also represents the Karnal assembly constituency. Similar protests shall be held across all constituencies of Haryana. We shall be parking our tractors and trolleys filled with paddy crops and outside the residences”.
The Union government, Thursday, had postponed paddy procurement in Punjab and Haryana till October 11 citing delayed monsoon.
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