Farmers pay the price for protest

KARACHI – A farmers’ association protesting at Bilawal Chowrangi attempted to move towards the Bilawal House following which police used force to disperse the demonstrators.

The farmers were protesting against the sugarcane rate set by the government.

Due to security reasons, both roads in front of Bilawal House were closed for traffic but were later opened after the protesters were dispersed.

Police dispersed the protesters by using water cannons and batons and later carried out a search operation in adjoining lanes of the area to ensure the protesters do not gather again.

Several protesters were detained by the police. A large deployment of police remained in the area after the farmers were dispersed.

Traffic around the site of the protest was adversely affected earlier.

On November 29, the provincial government, after a month-long delay, fixed the official procurement price of sugarcane and announced commencing its crushing season.

The price at which the crop will be made available to buyers was fixed at Rs182 per 40kg (maund). The decisions were taken by the provincial Sugar Cane Control Board in a meeting presided over by Sindh Agriculture and Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal.

However, despite the fixing of the price, the sugar mills are yet to begin crushing the crop.

PROTEST IN MIRPURKHAS: Scores of growers held a demonstration here on Monday outside the press club to protest against the use of force against their fellow farmers near Bilawal House in Karachi in which over a hundred protestors were rounded up and many were injured, including women. Carrying banners and placards in their hands, the protesters were demanding the higher authorities take immediate notice of what they alleged atrocities by Karachi police against peaceful protestors.

They urged the government not only to immediately release the innocent growers, but also take action against those officials on whose orders the protestors were baton-charged.

Meanwhile, Farmer Organisation Council (FOC) Sindh Chairman Javed Ahmed Junejo has severely criticised the Sindh government for using force to disperse the protestors outside the Bilawal House Karachi.

Talking to this correspondent from Karachi over cell phone, he said that over 2,500 growers had arrived near Bilawal House to record their peaceful protest against the sugar mills owner’s non-compliance with the Sindh government’s notification, which had fixed the price of sugar at Rs182 per 40 kilogramme. “The mill owners offer us Rs130 per 40 kilogramme instead, which is not acceptable,” he said categorically.

He lamented that heavy contingents of police resorted to shelling and baton-charged the farmers as a result of which several of them were injured while over a hundred were taken into custody.

He said that the Sindh government had failed to make mill owners comply with its notification, and, instead, was using force to stifle the sugarcane growers. He termed it a conspiracy to weaken the farmers financially.

Junejo warned of blocking main roads and highways if the mill owners did not accept the official price.

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