Lucknow: The Mainpuri police arrested five farmers from Kishani area on Thursday for stubble burning after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed under sections of the IPC and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, police officials said. Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) said the police were conducting raids after getting information.
The five farmers included Bhure, Rajendra Singh, Pradeep Pal, Uday Pratap and Ram Kailash. They were arrested after they were found burning crop residue in their fields. “A policeman arrested all of them on the spot. The police took the five farmers into custody and produced them in the SDM court. The SDM then sent them to jail,” Maurya told NewsClick.
On Tuesday, in a similar case from Saharanpur, police reportedly arrested six farmers for “breach of peace” after they were allegedly found burning stubble despite objection from the area’s residents. Umesh Rohiya, Station House Officer (SHO) of Kotwali Dehat police station, said action was taken immediately in the case during a spot check on Wednesday. A week ago, police arrested five persons after they were caught burning stubble by locals.
A farmer in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi was also arrested for allegedly burning stubble at Jogiyapur village, barely 20 kms from the district headquarters. In neighbouring districts, including Azamgarh and Mau, similar FIRs have also been lodged against more than a dozen farmers.
1,150 FIRs Against 2,200 Farmers for Stubble Burning in UP
The Uttar Pradesh police has registered over 1,150 FIRs till date for burning paddy stubble and violating orders of the Deputy Magistrate in the district.
According to the UP Police, nearly 144 FIRs have been reportedly lodged in different districts across the state over the last 24 hours alone for stubble burning. The police lodged 15 FIRs in Balrampur, eight in Bahraich and Kushinagar, seven each in Aligarh, Basti and Hardoi, and six each in Rampur, Shahjahanpur, Siddhartha Nagar among others.
Farmers have been booked under various sections of the IPC, including 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health), 290 (punishment for public nuisance) and 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue).
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) H.C. Awasthi gave strict instructions to district police chiefs to curb air pollution by spreading awareness against stubble burning.
Senior officials at the state DGP headquarters said that the Additional Chief Secretary of Agriculture had informed the DGP that despite repeated instructions, cases of stubble burning were not coming down.
Prashant Kumar, ADG of law and order, said the Supreme Court was monitoring the situation and district police chiefs have been asked to ensure that guidelines for curbing stubble burning were being followed.
However, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) is fuming over the arrests of farmers, and have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the FIRs against the farmers. It has threatened to agitate if the “victimisation” of farmers was not stopped.
BKU state spokesperson Dharmendra Malik accused the state government of double standards. “The government has not made any arrangements to handle the situation and farmers cannot afford to manage the expenses of disposing stubble. A large number of farmers have not received the compensation of Rs 2,500 per acre (announced by the state government last year for not burning stubble),” Malik told NewsClick. He added that if the police continues to make arrests, they would gherao the concerned police station.
“The government and the police left no stone unturned to defame farmers for the pollution everywhere. The farmers are not solely responsible for the pollution. Farmers only burn stubble for 25 days in a year so how would only they be held responsible for the same?" asked the BKU leader.
Harinam Singh Verma, BKU vice-president for Uttar Pradesh, asked the government to stop the “atrocities” on farmers and instead take steps to resolve their problems. He warned that the BKU would be forced to come out on the streets in protest.
“Farmers are living in fear due to police harassment and are forced to leave their respective villages. Instead of assuring farmers and providing an alternative solution, the government is harassing farmers,” Verma told NewsClick.