Peaceful protests were held at several places in Himachal Pradesh as part of the nationwide ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by various farmers’ organisations Friday, but there were no reports of disruption of normal life or closure of any public services in the state except a road block in Theog.
Himachal Kisan Sabha held protests in around 20 development blocks of nine districts in the state and submitted memorandums to the President through the local administrations, said a statement by the organisation. In their memorandum, the organisation demanded a rollback of the three agriculture-related contentious laws passed by the Parliament this week and also demanded inclusion of minimum support prices for crops within the legal ambit.
In Theog, demonstrators led by CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha reportedly blocked a road for some time in protest.
Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, state president of Himachal Kisan Sabha, said that growers of vegetables and other crops in Himachal are already getting low prices for their produce. “Last year, garlic produced in Himachal was bought for Rs 6-33 and then sold for as much as Rs 150 in some other states,” he said while addressing a gathering of protesters outside the DC office in Shimla.
He added that if the laws are implemented, industrialists involved in agri-business will indulge in black-marketing and hoarding, MSP will be snatched away, and mandis will be destroyed.
District president Satyawan Pundir said that commission agents have already looted horticulturists in the state of crores of rupees, referring to the case of commission agents and traders failing to pay their dues to apple growers – an issue which is also being investigated by a special unit of the HP police.
Meanwhile, state BJP said that the new laws will bring prosperity to the farmers. Urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj said that the Himachal government provides grant-in-aid to APMCs and the Marketing Board and will continue to do so in future. “These laws will allow the development of private mandi infrastructure in the state and will increase diversification with more focus on cash crops,” he said.
Party state president Suresh Kashyap said the central government has decided to establish 10 thousand farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in the country. State spokesperson Shashi Dutt said that there will be no end to minimum support price (MSP) and mandis in the country, and MSP for the rabi crops will be declared next week.
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