City onion traders continue strike
Wholesale onion traders in Delhi are peeved at being held responsible for the rising price of the commodity and have gone on indefinite strike, saying raids by the authorities to counter hoarding are only adding insult to injury.delhi Updated: Jan 12, 2011 13:33 IST
Wholesale onion traders in Delhi are peeved at being held responsible for the rising price of the commodity and have gone on indefinite strike, saying raids by the authorities to counter hoarding are only adding insult to injury.
Raids were carried out across Delhi, including the wholesale vegetable market at Azadpur Mandi and its suburbs, on Monday by the Income Tax department as part of a nationwide crackdown against hoarding of onions in a bid to curb its shooting prices.
"We are on strike since yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon because we believe the government is defaming us by terming us as hoarders and cheaters. On top of it, they are raiding us. This is like adding insult to injury," Rajan Sharma, general secretary of the Chamber of Azadpur Fruit and Vegetable Traders, told IANS.
"First, the government did not procure enough onions and kept exporting them until the situation got out of control. The government is defaming us and even our neighbours have started taunting and blaming us for the price rise. This is hurting our self-respect," added Sharma.
The traders opined that raids should be conducted only if there is proof of any wrongdoing and accused the government of diverting attention from the main issue by only holding traders responsible.
"We are not stopping them from raiding anybody, it is their right to do so. But there has to be logic behind such actions. Raid us if we are evading income tax or are guilty of any other offence," said Sharma.
According to him, around 10 to 15 traders were raided on Monday, but no one was found to be holding any stock which proved their innocence. Moreover, around 950 officials from the agriculture department are at the 'mandi' at any given point of time to keep a tab on hoarding.
"So, even after government enforcement if we are able to hoard onions, then all those officials should be suspended and the licenses of the whole 'mandi' should be cancelled… We will continue to strike till the government stops blaming us," said an infuriated Sharma.
Onion prices shot up across the country after crops in Nashik in Maharashtra were spoilt due to untimely heavy rains. The authorities are now trying to nail any possible hoarding which may further aggravate prices.
The IT department last week conducted similar search operations in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and few other states.
The wholesale price of onion is ruling at around Rs 40-47 per kg while the retail price is around Rs 60 per kg in the national capital.