In a tragic twist to the skyrocketing prices of onions, a farmer, Yellaiah, was allegedly stoned to death by miscreants who eyed his treasure-- a bagful of 150 kg onions grown by him in a market yard in the neighbouring Ranga Reddy district.
The victim, who belongs to Kadicharla village in Nawabpet mandal of the district in Andhra Pradesh, was targeted allegedly because of his prized possession. “People told us that the attack was because of onions as the gunny bag is missing from the place. We have received a complaint from his son, Ramulu, about the murder. There is another version that the murder was a consequence of an old land dispute. The case is under investigation and we will know the real motive after that,” said Nawabpet police station inspector, Lingaiah.
The incident brings into focus the issue of the phenomenal rise in the price of onions and the government’s inability to control the price. The wide gap between what a farmer gets for the crop he toils to raise and the price at which a consumer buys it-- 50 paisa per kg and Rs. 100—appears to be leading to such a situation. The price of onion is hovering around Rs. 70 in several places in Andhra Pradesh.
Expressing shock at the farmer’s murder, the former Union government secretary E.A.S. Sarma traced the problem to the lack of coordination between the Central and State governments in controlling the prices. The crux of the problem is the chain of middlemen, wholesalers and pseudo farmers who eye a windfall of profit in the entire hoarding game, he said. “I’m not surprised if there is a nexus between local politicians and hoarding businessmen in the entire game. Onion prices went up even before the rainfall this year which is solely because of hoarding dynamics. The government is fully aware of it,” said Mr. Sarma.