CHITWAN, Jan 28: Police in Nawalparasi district detained dozens of sugarcane farmers on Monday who were planning to stage a sit-in at the District Administration Office (DAO) demanding fair price for their produce.
Around 33 sugarcane farmer were detained from Buddhachowk of Parasi, the district headquarters, while they were heading toward the DAO. About 200 people inluding the farmers and locals were heading for the district headquarters when police stopped them.
The farmers had hoped to put across their problem to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who was scheduled to arrive in Parasi for the UCPN (Maoist) district convention Monday.
Condemning the arrest, Umesh Chandra Yadav, the chairman of Sugarcane Farmers´ Committee complained that the detention was an attempt to silence the voice of the farmers. “We wanted to share the issue with PM Bhattarai face to face because all our complaints were ignored in the past. Regardless of the gravity of our problem, they detained the farmers saying that their presence could create obstruction in the prime minister´s movements,” said Yadav.
Even though three big sugar mills are operating in the district for years, authorities have not fixed the price of sugarcane. Earlier farmers and mill operators had reached a deal whereby the latter had agreed to pay Rs 483 per quintal of sugarcane. But farmers complained that the deal was not honored and they resorted to protest.
“Instead of taking our demand seriously and helping to resolve the problem the chief district officer ordered our arrest. This is anti-democratic,” said the coordinator of Nawalparasi Accountability Monitoring Committee Brijraj Kushwaha.
The farmers were still in police detention Monday evening.