Farmers from Haryana on Monday blocked the Delhi-Chandigarh highway as part of a protest to seek Minimum Support Price, or MSP, for sunflower seed from the state government, PTI reported.
The minimum support price is the rate at which the government buys farm produce. It is based on a calculation of at least one and a half times the cost of production incurred by farmers.
The development came after a mahapanchayat, called by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni), was held at a grain market in Kurukshetra’s Pipli village close to the highway.
The farmers have been demanding that the Haryana government procure their sunflower crop at a minimum support price of Rs 6,400 per quintal, as announced for the crop by the central government for 2022-23.
However, a senior official from the Haryana food and supplies department had told The Print that the state government had not announced that it would procure sunflower seeds at minimum support prices for 2022-2023.
He said that the Centre announces minimum support prices for 22 to 23 crops for the country, but it is up to state governments to decide on which farm commodities they would procure at those prices.
The protestors are also demanding the release of farmer leaders, including Gurnam Singh Chaduni, who were arrested during a protest in Kurukshetra on June 7, according to The Indian Express. They were charged under sections related to alleged rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing any public servant in the discharge of his public functions, disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant and assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.
Farmers from Haryana had given an ultimatum to the government to release Chaduni by June 12 or face agitation.
On Monday, farmer leader Karam Singh Mathana said the local administration had assured them of a meeting with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to discuss their demands, reported PTI.
“But now they say the Chief Minister has left Karnal,” Mathana said. “Because of this, the local committee which had organised the mahapanchayat decided to block the National Highway-44 till our demands are met.”
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who also attended the mahapanchayat, alleged that the government announces minimum support prices, but fails to procure agricultural commodities at those rates, reported PTI.
He also warned that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella group of nearly 40 farmers’ unions, would start a pan-India agitation if a law on minimum support prices was not introduced.
Olympic medal-winning wrestler Bajrang Punia, who is part of the protest against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was also present at the mahapanchayat.
Extending support to the farmers, he said: “Even we come from farmer families. We will stand with the farmers who are standing on the roads. We have supported farmers even during the farmers’ protest and we will keep supporting them.”