Farmers from Haryana, protesting over not getting a Minimum Support Price (MSP) in the procurement of sunflower crop, today blocked a national highway to Delhi as they aren’t satisfied with the relief announced by the Chief Minister. They took the decision to block traffic on the National Highway 44 at a ‘mahapanchayat’ held in the Pipli village of Kurukshetra district. Traffic has been diverted on the Delhi-Chandigarh route to avoid congestion.
Farm leaders from Haryana, Punjab, UP and other neighboring states had gathered at the Pipli grain market for the ‘MSP Dilao, Kisan Bachao’ mahapanchayat to press their demand.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had y on Saturday digitally released Rs 29.13 crore as interim ‘bharpai (relief)’ to 8,528 farmers for sunflower grown on 36,414 acres under the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana (BBY) — price difference payment scheme. The state government had earlier this year announced the inclusion of sunflower crop under BBY, a scheme through which it pays a fixed compensation to farmers against produce sold below MSP. The state government is giving Rs 1,000 per quintal as interim support under the scheme for the sunflower crop sold below the MSP.
The farmers are demanding that the state government procure sunflower at an MSP of Rs 6,400 per quintal.
Olympian wrestler Bajrang Punia, who recently received support from the state’s farmers during the ongoing protests against Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on sexual harassment charges, attended the mahapanchayat along with farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who led the massive year-long farmers’ agitation against the now-repealed controversial farm laws.
Farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni had June 6 blocked the national highway near Shahabad for over six hours, demanding that the government procure sunflower seeds at minimum support price (MSP). Police used water cannons and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters.
Later, nine BKU (Charuni) leaders, including its president, were arrested over various charges, including rioting and unlawful assembly.
Addressing the mahapanchayat, some farm leaders today criticised the government for its “anti-farmers” policies and police actions against their leaders. They demanded that the government procure sunflower seeds at MSP and that the protesters arrested in Shahabad recently be released.
Mr Khattar had on Saturday hit out at some farmer unions that allegedly “play politics” and urged the farming community not to fall prey to those who try to mislead them.
Mr Khattar had on Saturdau said when the state procured millet at MSP, it was found later that farmers from other states were also selling their crops in state mandis.
“Now a similar possibility is arising in sunflower procurement. So, as a precaution, we have announced the interim ‘bharpai’ as the market rate keeps fluctuating,” Mr Khattar had said.