Even as the TRS leaders, including Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao were in a pink celebrating mood in connection with the party’s formation day public meeting in Warangal, the distressed chilli farmers were setting fire to their produce in the neighbouring districts following steep fall in chilli prices.
As a matter of fact, the hollowness in the claim of the Chief Minister and other leaders that the TRS Government committed to the welfare of farmers and that it was initiating farmer-friendly measures was amply exposed on Friday by the glaring let down of the distressed farmers. who set fire to their chilli produce in protest against apathy on the part of the market committee officials and exploitation by the traders-brokers nexus in the Agricultural Market Yard at Khammam. Not only in Khammam, but even at places like Mancherial, Jangaon, Warangal and other places, the farmers resorted to setting their produce on fire for want of minimum support price.
According to reports reaching here, tension prevailed in the last few days in the Khamma Agricultural Market Yard where farmers were dumping their chilli produce. As many as 2.5 lakh bags of chillis were dumped by the farmers on Thursday alone flooding the market yard with red chillis. The farmers alleged that they have been forced to wait for selling their produce for the last few days as the officials of the market yard were promising to procure them increase in prices. However, while the officials of the market yard refused to procure the produce on Friday, the traders with the connivance of middlemen started buying at distress prices on the roads.
The farmers wanted the market yard officials to procure their produce as the yard would remain be closed for three days and reopen only on Tuesday. But to the chagrin of the farmers, some traders started buying the products at a very low price and according to one farmer, the prices have come down by Rs 3,000 per quintal. Enraged over this, the farmers raided the offices of Agriculture Market Yard Chairman and Secretary and damaged the furniture and other equipment after smashing the glass panes and windows, weighing machines and set fire to the scores of bags of chillis lying in the yard.
The market yard officials, including the Secretary ran for their lives as the frenzied farmers went berserk indulging in damaging properties and setting fire to chill bags. However, the police rushed to the spot and disciplined the unruly farmers by resorting to mild lathi-charge. The farmers complained that the prices they were being offered for their year-long struggle was a pittance as it would not meet their transport charges. They lamented that they would be forced to commit suicide as they were being driven to starvation. Some of them said what is the use of KCR promising Rs 4,000 seed money for the farmers per acre, they were not able to get even a minimum support price. The assistance being offered would not even suffice to meet “our” funeral expenses, bemoaned one farmer. (NSS)