Farmers' protest turns violent, one injured

HASSAN JUNE 26. Police today resorted to a mild lathicharge in the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard in Hassan on Thursday to disperse potato growers who were protesting against the exorbitant rise in the price of potato tubers. In the melee, one person was injured.

As the traders have rejected the "price formula" offered by the district administration, the situation is still tense. The Deputy Commissioner, L.K.Atheeq, and the Superintendent of Police, M.Nanjundaswamy, are camping in APMC yard.

Protesting against the rise in the price of potato tuber from Rs. 850 a quintal to Rs. 1,000, agitated growers blocked the road and began throwing stones. They tried to take away bags of potato tubers from shops. Police chased the growers to stop them from "looting".

Potato growers in the district, especially from Arakalgud and Alur, who thronged the APMC yard, urged the authorities to fix a reasonable price. The attempts by district authorities and people's representatives to assuage them failed. The growers, while accusing the authorities of taking a pro-trader stand, alleged that the traders were deceiving them with adulterated tubers and faulty weights and measures.

The Hassan MLA, K.H.Hanume Gowda, and the Deputy Commissioner, who intervened to sort out the issue, were forced to terminate the meeting initially as the growers rejected the "price formula" offered by them and obstructed the meeting. They gheraoed the agitated Deputy Commissioner who tried to walk out of the meeting.

When traders, who claimed that they were increasing the price because of inadequate stock, tried to transport the tubers to Hubli and Belgaum where the demand was more, the growers blocked the vehicle and tore open the bags and spilled the tubers. A few growers even tried to take away the tubers. When police tried to disperse them, the growers started throwing stones. Police resorted to a lathicharge to control the crowd.

The district authorities and the MLA tried to assuage the feelings of the growers by fixing the rate at Rs. 775 a quintal and assured them of random checking to stop adulteration and faulty weighing system. But the traders rejected this, saying it would harm their interests.

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