Staff Correspondent

DAVANGERE: Protests seeking adequate supply of fertilizers took a serious turn on Friday when farmers forced shops, business establishments and hotels to close down.

They also blocked the Bangalore-Pune highway, affecting vehicular movement.

Owing to the protest, a large number of vehicles including Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses and trucks were stranded on the highway, forming a six-kilometre line. The police, however, showed restraint while dealing with the issue and did not act sternly against the farmers.

The farmers, who waited patiently for the last three days in the wake of assurances by the district administration that 2,500 tonnes of fertilizer would be supplied to the district, became restive upon being informed that fertilizer was not available with any dealer. While many of them staged a dharna on the Bangalore-Pune highway, others protested at Gandhi Circle in the city.

Among those who addressed them during the strike were Huchavanahalli Manjunath, Ravi and H.K. Ramachandrappa.

Highly critical

The leaders were highly critical of the Union Government for not supplying fertilizer and said farmers were not asking for free supply. Farmers had already been hit by the vagaries of nature in the last three years, and were now hopeful of getting good yield as rains had been regular and lands congenial for cultivation. They alleged that the Government had been playing with their lives, and added that it would be held responsible for farmers’ suicides from now on.

The leaders said they were not interested in any explanations from the district administration. Officials had promised farmers that 2,500 tonnes of fertilizer would be procured and supplied to them within three days.

Farmers have decided to call for a Davangere bandh on Saturday to draw the attention of the Government to their problems. Headquarters assistant to the Deputy Commissioner Prabhu Dev, Assistant Commissioner of Davangere division Janaki and Joint Director of Agriculture Shivamurthappa came to Gandhi Circle and tried to pacify the protesters. But, their efforts were in vain. The officials said fertilizer was on its way from Bangalore to the district and would be distributed on Saturday. The farmers, however, said they were not prepared to hear what they termed “fabricated stories” and added that they wanted action instead of empty talk.