Andhra man dies in queue to buy onions; crisis rocks state assembly
Sambaiah Reddy was among the hundreds of people who were standing in serpentine queues at Gudivada town’s local Rythu Bazaar (farmers’ market), where the state’s marketing department facilitates direct selling of agricultural produce by farmers to consumers.Updated: Dec 09, 2019 16:21 IST
A 60-year-old man died of a heart attack while standing in a long queue for more than two hours to buy onions, prices of which have soared to Rs 180 a kilo, in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district on Monday, the police said.
Sambaiah Reddy was among the hundreds of people who were standing in serpentine queues at Gudivada town’s local Rythu Bazaar (farmers’ market), where the state’s marketing department facilitates direct selling of agricultural produce by farmers to consumers.
“The market re-opened after a day’s holiday on Sunday and the people in large numbers thronged the market to buy onions at a subsidised rate of Rs 25 a kg at a special counter opened by the authorities at 8.30am. There was a mild stampede at the spot, as people surged forward to buy onions,” an official of Gudivada Police said.
Reddy was waiting for his turn to buy the vegetable when he collapsed at the spot. Others in the queue immediately took him to Gudivada Area Government Hospital, where he was declared “brought dead”.
“No case was booked as it was a natural death. The relatives took the body home,” a police official said.
Long queues of people to buy onions were also reported from Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Tirupati and other parts of the state.
Women, who had been standing in the queue since 5am at the Sitammadhara agriculture market in Visakhapatnam, blocked the road and staged a protest when authorities told them that the subsidised onion quota had been exhausted.
The onion crisis in the state also rocked the Winter Session of the assembly which began on Monday.
Lawmakers of the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came to the assembly wearing garlands of onions to register their protest and shouting slogans against the YSR Congress party government for what they say was inept handling of the situation.
The police, however, did not allow them to enter the assembly with onion garlands and asked them to remove them.
TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu said the price of onions was shooting up alarmingly and they had become as precious as gold. He charged the government with failing to resolve the crisis by not procuring additional quota.
Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy shot back at the opposition, saying Andhra Pradesh was the only state in the country which was supplying onions to the people at a subsidised rate of Rs 25 per kg against the open market price of Rs 180.
“Can Naidu ensure supply of onions at his family stores Heritage at this rate? The onion price at Heritage is as high as Rs 200 a kg,” he said.
He said the government was purchasing onions from far and wide places like Sholapur and Alwar and selling them at subsidised rates to the people.