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New Delhi: Protesting farmers in Haryana lifted their 21-hour blockade on National Highway 44 in Shahabad in the state’s Kurukshetra area on Saturday, September 24, after the state government agreed to their demands regarding the procurement of Kharif crops.
Under the banner of the Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni), the farmers had blocked the Delhi-Ambala highway on Friday demanding that the state government begin the procurement of paddy immediately rather than on the slated procurement date of October 1.
The farmers were concerned that the humidity and rain would spoil the grain and also noted that they didn’t have adequate storage space to keep the grain. Thus, they wanted the procurement date moved up, according to a report in NDTV.
While the official procurement of the crop will still begin on October 1, the government agreed to begin moving all the paddy stored in grain markets immediately on Saturday. Further, the state government also said that it would procure at MSP an average yield of 30 quintals per acre in the main paddy growing areas and 28 quintals per acre in other areas, instead of the earlier 22 quintals.
On Saturday, BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni announced that the farmers would clear the blockade because the government had met their demands. However, he also noted that if the lifting of grains does not begin Saturday, the deputy commissioner and other officers present at the dharna site would be held responsible, according to an Indian Express report.
The government’s decision came after a Chandigarh advocate filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking directions to the government to ensure the smooth flow of traffic on NH-44 since the farmer’s blockade had caused major traffic disruptions.
In a midnight hearing, the bench of Justices Augustine George Masih and Alok Jain had pulled up the state government for its failure to preempt a law and order situation and thus directed the government to ensure the highway is cleared of blockades so the public is not inconvenienced.
Further, it directed the state to prevent any further deterioration of law and order, but also advised caution, saying the use of force should be the last option, only if the administration has no other recourse available.
Following the orders, on Saturday morning, Kurukshetra deputy commissioner Shantanu Sharma and superintendent of police (SP) S.S. Bhoria met Chaduni at the dharna site to convey the news. After being handed the PA system by Chaduni, the deputy commissioner announced the government’s decision to meet the farmers’ demands.
Thereafter, Bhoria told NDTV that the traffic diversions have been removed and traffic has begun to flow.
(With PTI inputs)