MP farmers duped by traders outside Mandis, several arrested
State government in Madhya Pradesh continues to convince farmers about the efficacy of new farm laws introduced by the central government. However, a number of farmers from at least 10 districts have so far complained about being duped by traders outside Krishi Upaj Mandis.
However, the state government claims to have taken tough action and the police have arrested accused in several cases.
On Wednesday, police arrested two traders- Suresh Khoja and Pawan Khoja-- both residents of Khategaon in Dewas district, who purchased moong and gram worth Rs 1.73 crore from 22 farmers from Dewas, Harda, Sehore and Hoshangabad, but they didn’t pay to the farmers all that was due.
As per the state government’s official communiqué, the farmers, in a joint memorandum, complained to sub-divisional magistrate concerned on Tuesday as per the provisions of the new laws-- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act. The traders were booked under sections 420 and 34 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and arrested from Indore the next day.
Similar complaints from farmers having been duped by traders have been received from other places too.
More than 70 farmers from Nandarwada village in Hoshangabad district had alleged that trader Aditya Raj purchased paddy worth Rs 85 lakh on December 23 from them but ran away without making the payment. Superintendent of police, Hoshangabad, Santosh Singh Gaur said the trader was arrested within 24 hours of the complaint.
For five farmers of Ratlam district in the state, the sale of green peas, onion and garlic worth Rs 10 lakh to a trader in Satara in Maharashtra proved to be a nightmarish experience. The farmers were framed in a false case of kidnapping of the trader’s 11-year-old son when they visited him for payment. The farmers were booked under sections 364, 363, 504 and 34 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), arrested and sent to jail, stated a complaint, lodged with Bilpank police station in the district on December 9, by the father of one of the farmers.
Similar complaints of cheating were received from farmers in Guna, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Balaghat and certain other districts.
In a glaring example of malpractices in purchase of agriculture produce, a private paddy procurement centre at Semra village in Patan Tehsil of Jabalpur district was found to be purchasing paddy from farmers without any authorisation from the government. Thousands of quintals of paddy worth about Rs 5 crore were purchased before action was taken against the centre, as per officials.
State president of Mandi Board Employees and Officers Association, Madhya Pradesh, Angira Pandey said, “Farmers were duped of more than Rs 20 crore in 15 to 20 districts after the new farm laws came into being. This is all because of the confusion and chaotic situation outside the mandis due to the farm laws.”
Pandey said that when purchase of agriculture produce by registered traders was completely regulated by Mandis, such a large number of complaints didn’t surface. “Whenever there was any malpractice by any trader, the provisions in Krishi Upaj Mandi Act of 1972 gave immediate relief to the farmers by penalising the traders. But now, farmers are supposed to approach the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) concerned and may not get relief as fast as they used to get under the Krishi Upaj Mandi Act.”
National president of youth wing of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh Rahul Sharma said, “Complaints by farmers of cheating by traders in almost every region of the state have corroborated our stand on the new farm laws that these are not in the interest of the farmers but the corporate houses. The central government should withdraw the farm laws and strengthen the Mandi system instead with guarantee of MSP to farmers on sale of agriculture produce.”
Farmers welfare and agriculture minister Kamal Patel disagreed with the farmers’ associations. “It is because of the new farm laws that farmers are lodging complaints with the administrative authorities and the administration is taking tough action against the wrongdoers. In many cases, the accused were arrested by the police. Earlier, there was no such remedy.”
He claimed that the farmers in Madhya Pradesh “understand well” that the farm laws are there to help them get enhanced income. “That’s why they are with the farm laws and the BJP government,” he said.