Farmers on alert as thieves target onions in MP
Bhopal/Neemuch: Farmers in several onion-growing areas of Madhya Pradesh have started keeping a round-the-clock watch on their fields after at least a dozen thefts of the pricey bulbs took place in recent weeks.
The worst hit is the state’s onion belt of Mandsaur, where in 2016 six farmers died in a clash between protesting farmers, demanding better price for their produce, and the police. Other districts from where onion thefts has been reported are Dewas and Khandwa.
Madhya Pradesh is the second biggest producer of onion in India, next only to Maharashtra. It contributes about 16% of the country’s onion production, according to official figure. Onion prices have soared since September , exceeding the Rs 100 per kilogram mark in almost all markets in the country in recent weeks, .
The latest theft of onions took place in Mandsaur. On Tuesday night, thieves struck in the farms of Jagdish Patidar and Dashrath Patidar, residents of Kachnara village under Narayangarh police station, dug up the fields and made away with onions worth about Rs 60,000.
“I had thought that given the high price of onion I will earn good money this time and use it for installing a tubewell but my dream has been shattered,” said Jagdish Patidar, who lodged a report with the police on Wednesday,
Dashrath Patidar said: “We can remain awake the whole night but the problem is we can’t spend the whole night in the agriculture fields, given the winter season and chilly winds. When we returned home after midnight, the thieves targeted our fields.”
Farmer Jitendra Dhangar’s farm in Richhabachcha village of Mandsaur was targeted by thieves about a fortnight back. “The thieves dug up the field and decamped with about 6.5 quintal onion worth Rs 30,000,” he said.
In Dewas, at least two thefts of onion in the past fortnight has been reported to the police.
Rahul Raj, state president of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan , said: “The reports coming from the rural areas are just a tip of the iceberg. Scores of such thefts have taken place but police have not lodged reports. Police should ensure that such thefts don’t take place.”
Rakesh Kumar , the superintendent of police of Neemuch, where several onion thefts have been reported, said: “Given the thefts of onion, we have alerted Dial 100, gram raksha samitis (village protection councils) and police beat in charge to check such thefts.”
On November 28, thieves looted 40 tonnes of onion from a truck in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh. The truck was on its way to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh from Nashik in Maharashtra.
Similarly, 12 bags of onion were stolen from a warehouse in Gwalior on Tuesday. Thieves struck a vegetable market at Niwadganj in Jabalpur in the second week of December and made away with about 650 kg of onion worth Rs 75,000, according to the police.
Gwalior police on Tuesday arrested an alleged onion thief who was selling the bulb at a throwaway price at a local market. Police said that when questioned he confessed to having stolen the vegetable from a farm silo.