Demanding dues, sugar cane growers block national highway

Warn of statewide protests if govt fails to redress their grievances

Demanding dues, sugar cane growers block national highway
Farmers blocked the busy Pune-Bengaluru National Highway near the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (SVS) for over four hours on Monday, demanding government intervention to make sugar factories pay their outstanding dues of two years for sugarcane supplies.

The protest was timed to coincide with the opening day of the monsoon session of the State Legislature here on Monday. Various farmers’ organisations converged and staged protests to press their demand. They warned of statewide protests if the government failed to redress their grievance.

Farmers accused the government of adopting a soft approach towards sugar factory owners despite the latter failing to clear farmers’ dues of Rs 4,600 crore for the past two years. They demanded that the government initiate legal action against defaulting sugar factories.

Farmers’ leaders rejected the offer of talks to thrash out the problem from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, conveyed to them by police officials.

“The farmers contended that talks were passe; the government must ensure that sugar factories cleared their dues or pick up the bill,” police sources said.

When the protesting farmers did not relent, hoping that the Chief Minister or Sugar Minister H S Mahadev Prasad would come and meet them, the police around 7.30 pm detained the farmers and restored traffic movement on the highway.

The farmers held a meeting on a hillock in Kondaskoppa village near the Suvarna Soudha and decided to stage peaceful protests. They urged the government to hold the legislature session only after their dues were cleared. 

Indebted farmers were resorting to serial suicides and the government remained a mute spectator. More than ten farmers had taken the extreme step in a week across the State. The government, instead of testing the patience of farmers, should alleviate their sufferings,  the farmers demanded.

Attempts by the farmers to lay siege to the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha were foiled by the police. Instead, they were bundled into buses to be taken towards Dharwad but the protesters alighted from the vehicles and lay down on the road.

Farmers’ leaders Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, Kadiwal Shamanna, Chamras Malipatil, Kurabur Shantkumar, K T Gangadhar, Nagendra, Basavaraj Malali and Ansuyamma Manjegowda, besides farmers in large numbers participated in the protests and courted arrest.
The police, too, were deployed in sizeable strength to prevent untoward incidents.

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