Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to allay tensions in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat, a day after a sugarcane farmer died while protesting the non-payment of dues.
Addressing supporters after inaugurating the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Modi said his government was looking into the problems of sugarcane farmers. “I want to assure all sugarcane farmers here that the government is sensitive towards their issues and is working to resolve all the problems,” the PM said.
Hours after his statement, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav slammed PM Modi, saying that the sugarcane farmers will not get their dues by holding roadshows.
“People of Baghpat, Binor, Meerut, Shamli and Muzaffarnagar know how much payment of farmers is still due with the government. Road show won’t give farmers their due payment. Also, the inauguration which BJP is boasting was done only after Supreme Court's directives and that too, only nine kilometeres of the entire expressway is being inaugurated,” he said, adding that besides the farmers, the BJP government had also forgotten their promise made to the students of the state.
Merely 30km away from the venue of the expressway launch, Baraut town has been witnessing farmers’ protests for six days. On Saturday morning, 58-year-old Udayveer Singh died while sitting on a dharna with 50 other farmers. Within hours, the protesting farmers gathered in huge numbers at the tehsil office.
The protesters alleged that the BJP government had promised clearance of their dues within 14 days of coming to power in the state, but nothing was done even after a year. Instead, the power tariff was hiked twice, they said.
The district administration claimed that the farmer could have died due to cardiac arrest. However, Udayveer Singh's family lodged an FIR on Saturday evening, stating that he suffered an ‘unnatural death’.
The deceased farmer owns eight bighas of land in the Jeewana village. Family of the deceased farmer spoke to media and said, “Farmers are facing a crisis like situation, dues are not being cleared. On the contrary, power tariff is hiked every two months. There are farms where the sugarcane has not even been harvested.”
Speaking on the issue, the National Vice President of RLD, Jayant Chaudhary said, “The government hiked power tariff twice in the last five months. Sugar mills have closed. They are importing sugar from abroad. It is a grave issue. (Singh) sacrificed his life fighting for the interest of others, he is a martyr.”
Interestingly, in the neighbouring Kairana, which is due for bypoll on Monday, the sugarcane dues have emerged as the biggest issue.
Baghpat ADM Lokpal Singh initially announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased farmer, however, the amount was later increased to Rs 12 lakh after pressure from the protesting farmers.