Worsening damage of opium crops due to erratic climate, hundreds of cultivators in Neemuch and its surrounding parts are living in fear of armed crop robbers.
In the past one month, over a dozen robbery incidents were reported in Neemuch and its surroundings where robbers made way with standing opium crop and attacked guarding farmers.
About 25 to 30 robbers thrashed four persons including a minor at Jamuniya village under Neemuch police station on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday and looted standing opium crop on one bigha land. One bigha is equal to 0.4 acre of land.
The injured, who were guarding their crops, were identified as farmer Narayanlal Prajapati, 58, Radheshyam, 50, Mulchand, 40, and Arjun, 13.
Narayanlal, who was severely injured, informed police that criminals armed with guns and axes attacked them at around 12 am.
Villagers claimed that local gangs and criminals from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are suspected to be behind the attacks.
Former Neemuch district Congress president and anti-drug movement convenor Surendra Sethi said over 95% of opium growers have not cut their crops to avoid submitting records to the state government. They have left crops intact on the fields, which has triggered robbery.
Experts believe prices of crops are expected to increase up to 10 times after the area incurred 99% of its total crop loss due to harsh weather this year.
With increasing instances of robbery, farmers are flocking to authorities to procure gun licences to defend their crop. As reported by Hindustan Times before, 1,982 farmers have procured gun licenses to protect their crops in Neemuch and guard their fields in round-the-clock shifts.
Neemuch superintendent of police (SP) Manoj Singh, however, has assured farmers that the police was prepared to deal with the armed robbers.
“We had instructed all police station incharges to patrol in their areas, coordinate with village guards and Gram Raksha Samiti members. Besides, we have also directed the Dial 100 police team to remain vigilant, especially during nights,” SP Singh said.