Farmers here blocked traffic on the Amritsar-Delhi national highway (NH) and squatted on the road for nearly an hour to protest against alleged non-procurement of their paddy crop or procurement at lower prices.
Former Punjab minister Joginder Singh Mann addressed the farmers at the protest site at Sugar Mill crossing on the highway on Saturday.
Mann alleged that even though paddy procurement had started about two weeks ago, "procurement agencies were either not procuring the produce or forcing farmers to sell paddy at extremely lower rates."
Mann accused the SAD-BJP government "of being anti-farmer despite its daily drumbeating about being their custodian."
The farmers alleged that their paddy had not been procured for the past eleven days, though the procurement began two weeks ago.
"We are being pestered under one pretext or the other by the procuring officials who are suggesting us to sell the crop at Rs 700-1000 per quintal as against the government rate of Rs 1,345 because they (officials) say the grains were either having excess moisture or were discoloured or of poor quality," the protesters alleged.
They claimed that the quality of the grain was getting spoiled by lying unprocured in the market.
The protest was called off after Phagwara sub-division SP Gursevak Singh Brar assured the farmers of solution for their problem.
However, when contacted, additional deputy commissioner-cum-administrator, Market Committee, Phagwara, SK Singla today refuted the charge that the paddy crop was not being procured.
"Only the paddy with moisture far in excess, discolouration of grain and being sub-standard, that is not fulfilling the laid down specifications, is not being procured, while the rest of the crop is being procured," he said.
He also refuted the charge that the officials concerned were forcing the farmers to sell the paddy crop below the minimum procurement price.