Tension prevailed near the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Saturday with some sugarcane farmers giving vent to their ire after a meeting with district authorities to resolve the payment of arrears was cancelled.

However, the police and some farmer leaders intervened and brought the situation under control.

Scores of farmers belonging to the Sugarcane Cultivators’ Association had assembled for the scheduled meeting with officials, which was called off as Deputy Commissioner P.S. Vastrad had to leave for Bangalore.

This incensed a section of the farmers who were running out of patience over the delay in paying the arrears due to them.

The cancellation of the meeting also led to bickering among the farmers, as one faction led by Govindaraju, abused association president Kurubur Shanthakumar.

But they were in a minority and members of the Kurubur group roughed them up. Some field staff of a private sugar mill, who were present at the spot, received a few blows from the farmers, who accused them of trying to drive a wedge among sugarcane cultivators.

However, the police present at the spot intervened and prevented the situation from getting ugly. Mr. Shanthakumar, president of the association, told The Hindu there was a conspiracy to divide sugarcane farmers by the sugar factory management.

Bhagyaprakash, convener of the association for Chamarajanagar district, accused the factory management of trying to instil fear among farmers by intimidating them. The association said the sugarcane farmers were in dire straits as the government had failed to address their demands.

“The factory has accumulated arrears of Rs. 96 crore in two years,” alleged Mr. Shanthakumar.

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