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Farmers Demanding Sunflower MSP Lathi-Charged in Kurukshetra

Several farmers were seriously injured and hospitalised and many farmer leaders were arrested.
Police personnel detain farmers during their protest against the Haryana government’s decision to not buy sunflower seeds on the minimum support price (MSP), in Kurukshetra, Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Police personnel detain farmers during their protest against the Haryana government’s decision to not buy sunflower seeds on the minimum support price (MSP), in Kurukshetra, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi: The police cane-charged farmers demanding Minimum Support Price (MSP) for sunflower seeds in the Shahabad Markanda subdivision of Haryana’s Kurukshetra district on Tuesday as the protest intensified.

On the call of BKU (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni, the farmers blocked National Highway 44, near Shahbad, on Tuesday afternoon. They demanded MSP for sunflower seeds from the government, which plans to offer them Bhavantar, the difference between MSP and the rate at which farmers sell their produce.

Several farmers were seriously injured and hospitalised. Many farmer leaders, including Charuni, were arrested and could be produced in court on Wednesday.

Kurukshetra superintendent of police SS Bhoria told PTI that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed that the highway be kept open for smooth traffic. However, the court order made it clear that the administration should exercise utmost restraint and, use force to disperse the crowd as the last resort.

Bhoria claimed that a copy of the court order was given to the farmer leaders, but the protesters were not ready to budge. They were warned to clear the highway but refused. Therefore, the police used water cannons and resorted to lathi charge to disperse the crowd.

However, the farmers are undeterred with the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) joining the protest. Protests were held across the state after the arrest of the leaders.

Farmers blocked roads and highways in several other cities in response to the lathi charge, including Sonipat, Gohana and Rohtak. In Sonipat, farmers blocked the Ganaur Pugthala Road, near Sardhana village.

AIKS national vice-president UKM leader Inderjit Singh condemned the lathi charge, called for an immediate release of the detained farmers, and appealed to all farmers to unite to support the protest. “The Kisan Sabha and the entire SKM are with this movement,” he added.

Haryana farmer leader Suresh Koth issued a video warning to the Manohar Lal Khattar government saying it should not think the farmers are alone. “Farmers of the whole state are with them,” he said.

BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait tweeted that the police’s use of force on the farmers is condemnable. “The police should immediately release the arrested farmers and farmer leaders. Otherwise, we are ready for agitation,” he tweeted. 

Why are farmers protesting?

The protesting farmers alleged that the government is not procuring sunflower seeds at the MSP, forcing them to sell their produce to private buyers for around Rs 4,000 per quintal against the Rs 6,400 MSP.

The government should procure sunflower seeds at the MSP, Charuni said. The protesters said that they had given the government time till Monday, but their demand was not fulfilled.

The protesters said they are against the government’s decision to include sunflower seeds in the Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana, giving a fixed compensation of Rs 1,000 per quintal for produce sold below the MSP.

The opposition Congress targeted the state government after the cane charge. Senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda recently said, “Sunflower farmers are waiting for the minimum support price and losing Rs 1,500-Rs 2,500 per quintal by selling their produce to private traders.” 

Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that the Khattar government has become a “government of sticks”. “The lathi charge on farmers in Kurukshetra will act as a nail in the coffin of the BJP-JJP government. The MSP of the sunflower crop is Rs 6,400, but the farmer is forced to sell it for Rs 4,000-4,500,” he tweeted.

On asking for justice, you get sticks. This oppression will not be tolerated anymore. The merciless lathi charge in Shahabad has exposed the Khattar government’s hatred towards farmers,” he tweeted further.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Anurag Dhanda tweeted: “In Haryana’s Kurukshetra, farmers demanded MSP on sunflowers but got lathis from the BJP government. Everything will be remembered.”

Wrestler Bajrang Punia has also supported the farmers. “The farmers only asked for the right price for their crops but got lathis and were arrested in return. Wrestlers are standing with the farmers,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Charuni had told reporters at the protest site that the “protest will continue until the government accepts our demand”.

The farmers said that they would continue the protest until “justice is done”. “We oppose the brutal beating of farmers by the police,” Charuni said, calling Khattar “anti-farmer”.

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