THE SIMMERING tension between farmers and commission agents finally exploded this morning at Choithram Sabji Mandi when a major fight broke out leaving many injured. A police team led by CSP Dilip Soni was rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Although there are different versions as to what triggered the brawl, witnesses say that a group of commission agents, frustrated with loss of business, tried to disrupt the direct sale of commodities by farmers resulting in the clash.
Another version is that the clash was sparked off when one commission agent, Rajore, brought a truck on the Mandi premises and tried to sell potato and onions at cheap rates in a bid to undermine the farmers. Not only was he selling them at rock bottom prices, he was also offering potatoes and onions on credit.
This incensed the farmers who entered into an altercation with him. They challenged him and said when commission agents were on strike, why was he selling vegetables. Later, some of the farmers reportedly beat up Rajore. After the police came, counter-complaints were filed against the farmers and commission agents under Sections 323, 294 and 506 of IPC. Later, the police and Mandi administration also effected a truce between both the parties.
It may be recalled that commission agents and wholesale traders of potatoes and onions are on strike from August 14 to protest Mandi Board’s decision to end commission practice. In wake of the strike, Krishi Upaj Mandi has made special arrangements to facilitate sale of commodities directly from farmers to the retail traders and consumers. The prices of potatoes and onions that had hit the roof a day after the strike are gradually coming back to normal.
Krishi Upaj Mandi secretary Nilay Satbhaiyya informed that farmers today sold onions for as low as Rs 2-4 per kg and potatoes for Rs 5-7 per kg.
When asked about today’s incident, Satbhaiyya said that obviously commission agents had become frustrated and were looking for excuses to pick up a fight. He said that the incident had no affect on the functioning of Mandi, and farmers were having no difficulty in selling their produce.
Vegetable Traders Association joint secretary Shekhar Badoniya informed that commission agents were urging Mandi administration to reduce the commission from seven per cent to five per cent, but not to abolish the practice altogether. However, the farmers are in no mood to pay any commission.