Fertilizer, pesticide and seed dealers in Malwa have decided not to do business on Monday protesting against “harassment” by the police over allegations that some of them sold sub-standard products to cotton farmers. The dealers’ association allege that they have not been shown reports of results of product samples taken from them.
Fifteen FIRs have been registered against pesticide dealers in Malaut, Mansa and Fazilka. The dealers’ association will protest against police action in each district and present memorandums to the chief minister.
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“There has to be an inquiry into the purchase of insecticide by the government. An independent probe will blow the government’s cover. To hide its own wrongdoing, the government is moving against dealers without even showing the reports of pesticide samples that have been tested,” said Satish Satija, president, Abohar fertilizers and pesticides association.
The police raided certain dealers and lodged an FIR under Section 420 of the IPC.
“This is ridiculous! The police cannot raid our shops directly and even if they did, they need to show us the report of pesticide samples,” said Satija. “Why did the government purchase a particular brand of pesticide when there are many varieties available in the market at much cheaper rates?”
“As per the 1985 Insecticide Act, the police cannot raid our shops and only the agriculture officers have the power to take action against us. The police action is harassment,” said Raj Rasewat, state president of the association.
Muktsar SSP Chahal confirmed FIRs in Malaut. When asked whether the Insecticide Act prohibits the police from taking action, he said, “That is the dealers’ version. However, we are fully authorised to check shops and we will take action against errant shopkeepers.”