About 150 farmers were arrested and sent to Raipur Central Jail on Thursday after Section 144 of the IPC was imposed in five districts of Chhattisgarh to clamp down on a farmers’ protest march.
The farmers began marching from various districts of the State on Tuesday and planned to gherao Chief Minister Raman Singh’s residence in Raipur. Their list of demands included a bonus of ₹300 per quintal of paddy, adequate minimum support price for paddy and implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
Many senior farmers’ leaders were arrested including former Union Minister Arvind Netam, the convener of Chhattisgarh Kisan Majdoor Mahasangh, Sanket Thakur, and activists such as Alok Shukla, Lakhan Singh, Uttam Jaiswal, Durga Jha and Anand Mishra. “We have arrested them under Section 151 of the IPC as we suspected that they might violate the Section 144 which is in place,” said a police official.
Mr. Netam, who quit the Congress to join the tribal and farmers’ union, accused the Raman Singh government of “authoritarianism”. Mr. Netam said before his arrest: “What are they scared of? Why are they not even allowing us to present our demands? We were only reminding them of their own promise. How many people will they arrest? They will have to answer all this in the people’s court soon.”
The Congress also termed the government’s action as “repressive” and announced that it will “gherao” the State Assembly building in Raipur on Saturday in protest against the government’s inaction and not keeping its promises to farmers.
State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel said, “Never in the past has the State witnessed Article 144 being imposed in so many districts. Now, the Congress will take the fight of the farmers ahead.”
Chhattisgarh Agriculture Minister Brijmohan Agrawal did not respond to repeated calls from The Hindu . State BJP spokesperson Shiv Ratan Sharma justified the government’s clampdown on protesters by terming it “a drama by the Congress party.”