Harassed, only 25 farmers file papers in Varanasi

Harassed, only 25 farmers file papers in Varanasi

Turmeric farmers raise slogans in protest in Varanasi on Monday.

Only 25 out of 54 turmeric farmers from Telangana and Tamil Nadu (50 and 4, respectively) could file their nominations in Varanasi on Monday, the last date to do so. The turmeric farmers, who arrived in Varanasi on Saturday, claimed that at every step they were harassed by BJP workers and tracked by Uttar Pradesh police round the clock.

In a statement from Varanasi, Kotasani Narsimha Naidu of the Telangana Farmers Association said they were driven away from the hotel on Sunday night by the local police, who also threatened local farmers who came forward to help their brethren from the southern states.

“Out of the 54, only 25 could finally complete the formalities. But when we went to the bank they refused to give us challans. From 11 am to 2 pm, we stood in the line,” Naidu said. He said that only 25 farmers could go inside the collectorate to file their nominations. 

The group, which wanted to highlight the hardships faced by the turmeric farmers, further alleged that proposers were stopped by the police from entering the collectorate. “When we submitted forms, the returning officer refused to accept because the proposers were not accompanying us. We strongly believe that the whole official machinery in Varanasi, particularly the Election commission, has failed to protect us. The delay in opening the office today was intentional,” the farmers rued.

The farmers who failed to file nominations then held a dharna on the streets for over an hour. They said that none of the policemen posted there bothered about them. “I must thank the local lawyers and Uttar Pradesh farmers who stood behind us from the day we came to Varanasi,” Naidu said

Telangana Turmeric Farmers’ Association state vice-president Mittapalli Ganga Reddy said some locals got into their group and raised slogans like “collector murdabad”, prompting the UP police to turn against them.

The turmeric farmers have repeatedly said that they are not against any party or candidate and that they will not campaign in the election. In fact, the farmers planned to field at least 100 candidates to highlight their demand for a turmeric board and remunerative prices.