Hailstorm damage: Maharashtra farmers say ill-treated by government officials

Farmers in Osmanabad alleged they were made to pose with slates and photographed like criminals while their counterparts in Jalna claimed that they were asked to conduct autopsies of slain chicken.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2018 07:28 IST
HT Correspondent 
HT Correspondent 
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra farmers,Maharashtra,Osmanabad farmers
Farmers urged the government to at least treat them with dignity even if it can’t compensate. (HT Photo)

Farmers have protested against the ill-treatment meted out to them by district administrations in various parts of the state while conducting assessment programmes to gauge the extent of crop damage caused by a hailstorm last week.

Farmers in Osmanabad alleged they were made to pose with slates and photographed like criminals while their counterparts in Jalna claimed that they were asked to conduct autopsies of slain chicken. They have urged the government to at least treat them with dignity, even if it was unwilling to compensate them for their losses.

Bhagawant Birajdar (37) and many of his fellow-farmers in Osmanabad’s Ekondi village were allegedly asked by officials to pose for photographs with slates in their hands during a punchnama conducted to assess the crop loss due to the hailstorm on February 11. The slates contained their survey numbers, area under cultivation and other related information.

“We feel ashamed of the manner in which we were treated. It resembled an identification parade. Our guardian minister, Arjun Khotkar, was no better. When we asked if we can expect the compensation anytime soon, he responded by asking if we expect him to carry a cheque book around,” Birajdar said.

Osmanabad collector RV Game has ordered an inquiry. “Officials are expected to photograph the beneficiaries at the punchnamas, but asking farmers to hold slates is not right. We have announced a probe,” he said.

Residents of other villages complained that they were asked to conduct autopsies of their slain poultry. The order was finally withdrawn when state Congress chief Ashok Chavan lodged a complaint with the authorities.

“It is true that village-level revenue officers asked the farmers to bring the chickens for a post-mortem, but it was out of ignorance of the standing order. We have rectified it,” said Jalna resident deputy collector Rajesh Joshi.

The Opposition, meanwhile, has accused the government of insensitivity. “Instead of extending assistance to distraught farmers, the government is humiliating them,” said Chavan.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 07:25 IST