Crop compensation: When ‘Yamraj’ led a protest by Harda farmers

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Jun 15, 2016 16:43 IST
Farmers’ leader Prince Patel dressed as Yamraj leads a protest march in Harda district. Agitated farmers were demanding compensation under crop insurance scheme for crop damage in the last five years. (HT photo)

If crop damage is here, can the lord of death be far behind?

Prince Patel, a member of the Aam Kisan Union, dressed up as Yamraj – the Hindu version of the grim reaper – to lead a protest march of farmers in Harda district on Monday evening. They threatened to launch a full-scale agitation in the district if the authorities failed to provide them with insurance aid for agricultural damage incurred over the last few years.

Patel was accompanied by a buffalo – said to be the vehicle of Yamraj – during the protest.

The march started from Mandi area of Harda town and culminated in front of the collectorate, where farmers submitted a memorandum of demands. They also threw bags of wheat at the building, shouting that the government was welcome to have them if it wished to grow fat on their hard work.

Union leader Kedar Sirohi said the Yamraj act was a symbolic gesture to show how “the lord of death was freely roaming around the drought-hit district, hoping to claim the souls of farmers on the verge of committing suicide”. And the government, the union leader alleged, was doing nothing to stop him.

‘55,000 farmers in Harda not accorded compensation under crop insurance scheme’

“There are roughly 55,000 farmers in the district who have not been accorded compensation under the crop insurance scheme for the last five years, despite paying premiums every year,” Sirohi said. They were paid only for the 2012-13 period in the last five years, he added.

“We suffered losses of roughly Rs 28,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre. We are entitled to around Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 per acre under the crop insurance scheme, but we don’t seem to be getting our due,” the union leader said.

Agriculture department is dealing with the issue: Collector

When contacted, collector Harda Srikant Banot said the crop insurance money has to be disbursed at the state level. “The agriculture department is dealing with the issue. I have already forwarded the farmers’ memorandum to higher-ups in the government,” he added.

Farmers and tribals from Harda and surrounding districts have been known to come up with innovative ways of agitating against the government. In January, a farmer from the district danced before the collector during a public hearing to demand an early resolution to a family land dispute.

The following month, tribals from Betul district embraced their “slaves in independent India” status by chaining themselves outside the collector’s office.

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