A day after the suicide of a 55-year-old farmer triggered a protest over alleged sugarcane dues in Muzaffarnagar district’s Sisauli town, a senior official from the state Sugarcane Department Saturday said the farmer has been paid Rs 31,334 out of the total Rs 47,194 for a supply of 156 quintals of sugarcane.
Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate (DM) Selva Kumari J said farmer Om Pal Singh was supposed to supply 156 quintals of sugarcane, as per his quota for the season, to Khatauli-Triveni Sugar Mill but has supplied 149 quintals.
The 22-hour long protest was called off on Friday evening after Union minister and local MP Sanjeev Balyan visited Sisauli and announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to Om Pal’s family.
The Muzaffarnagar administration and police Saturday reiterated that Om Pal took the extreme step due to a land dispute with his brothers not because of unpaid dues by a sugar mill as previously alleged by his family.
“No FIR in this connection has been lodged against the management of Khatauli-Triveni Sugar Mill by family members of the deceased because the sugarcane dues were not an issue behind the suicide. Om Pal hanged himself following a land dispute with his two brothers,” Virendra Kasana, in-charge of Bhauri Kalan police station told The Sunday Express on phone. A patch of 35 bighas of sugarcane field has been divided among Om Pal and his two other brothers.
“Locals told us that while Om Pal was looking after the whole land, his two brothers were rarely seen in the field. This is why he was asking for a larger share in the farm income,” said Kasana.
Om Pal’s elder brother Jayveer said the family has decided not to file a police complaint after “Balyan assured us that a probe has already been initiated”.
The DM also concurred with the police investigation that the suicide was fallout of a land dispute.
Balyan on Friday evening announced Rs 5 lakh compensation from CM’s relief fund and another Rs 5 lakh through his own efforts within a week to Om Pal’s family. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) also announced monetary help of Rs 1 lakh each to the family. Farmer leader Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait’s Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) also promised Rs 50,000 to the family.
“I will make sure that every possible help is provided to the affected family from the government,” said Balyan.
Om Pal’s body was found hanging from a tree in his filed by his family and others on Thursday. They refused to hand over the body to police for autopsy alleging that he had committed suicide because the sugar mill did not clear his dues.
Budhana Sub-Divisional Magistrate Bhupendra Singh and police convinced agitating locals by promising an FIR against the sugar mill and compensation for the family. “They agreed to hand over the body, but the next day, they staged a blockade in Sisauli early on Friday morning alleging that we had betrayed them,” said Singh.
The SP, RLD and BKU leaders also joined the protest. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: “A cane grower in Muzaffarnagar has committed suicide after being fed up with refusal by the sugar mill to issue the slip for crushing of his standing cane crop. The BJP had promised that cane growers will get their payment within 14 days of handing over their crop to the sugar mills but many sugar mills have been closed down, blocking crores of cane dues of the farmers.” The blockade was lifted after Balyan’s intervention.
DM Selva Kumari J said private and the government sugar mills in the district have crushed 1,042 lakh tonnes of sugarcane in this crushing season with 10 more day left, which is 128 lakh tonnes more than the corresponding period last year.
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