Over 50 injured as policemen and farmers Clash in Bikanerindia Updated: Jul 15, 2017 23:40 IST
The protesters were demanding canal water for irrigation purposes at fields spread across Lunkaransar sub-division of Bikaner.(Photo: Twitter)
Over two dozen farmers and 30 policemen were injured when police baton-charged an angry mob blocking the Bikaner-Ganganagar highway in Lunkaransar on Saturday morning. Five of them are said to be in a critical state.
The protesters, led by the former CPI(M) legislator Lalchand Bhadu, were demanding canal water for irrigation purposes at fields spread across Lunkaransar sub-division of Bikaner. The district administration later imposed curfew-like restrictions under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code in the area.
The farmers’ unrest in Rajasthan, coupled with a spurt in debt-related suicides, has put the BJP-led state government on the back foot. Opposition parties, including the Congress and the CPI(M), have planned many similar rallies in the coming days.
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot has accused the BJP of neglecting farmers. “Nine committed suicide across Rajasthan in the last 40 days, while 70 farmers ended their lives over the last three years. The state government issues directives to suppress any protest or demonstration, even if conducted in a democratic manner, because it does not want people to question its working style,” he said.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address a protest rally in Banswara district on July 19.
In Bikaner, around 36 farmers were booked for damaging government property by herding bulls into the sub-divisional magistrate’s office. However, the farmers claimed that the bovines had entered the premises on their own, after officials failed to evacuate them from a nearby place.
Farmers in the area have complained of canal water shortage for irrigation purposes, besides stray cattle laying their crops to waste. They have submitted several memorandums in this regard to government officials over the last 10 days.
The irrigation department had readjusted about 60 APM (adjustable proportional module) of canal water to regulate the distribution of 3.90 cusecs across the sub-division last month. Farmers, however, remained dissatisfied. When all their petitions allegedly fell on deaf ears, they decided to assemble on the highway with around 500 heads of stray cattle.
“The farmers want another readjustment, which is not possible considering the availability and decided share of water. It will also disturb the water supply to the tail area of the canal,” district collector Anil Gupta told HT.
Although the BJP has placated the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, a clutch of farmer groups led by the Kisan Mahapanchayat has been agitating since May to demand loan waivers and condemn the plummeting price of agriculture produce. At least five farmers committed suicide in Kota region over the last one month.
Kota recorded bumper garlic production this financial year, accumulating 7.87 lakh metric tonnes against 3.94 lakh metric tonnes in 2015-16. However, the resultant glut led to a price crash, with garlic costing Rs 10-20 per kg this year as against Rs 50-100 in the previous one.