Insensitivity to farmers’ agitation apparent: Kharge

Special Correspondent

He demands that the police show restraint

‘Government’s handling of farmers’ agitations

is barbaric’

There is a shortage of fertilizer and seeds in all the districts, says Kharge

GULBARGA: The leader of the Opposition M. Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday, condemned the police firing on the agitating farmers in Haveri which resulted in one death and injuries to four others. He also demanded that the State Government should restrain the police from anymore brutal attacks on farmers.

Talking to The Hindu here, Mr. Kharge said that he was cutting short his three-day tour of the district and was rushing to Haveri to review the situation. Terming the police firing on the farmers as cruel, Mr. Kharge said that the handling of the farmers’ agitations on fertilizer and seed shortage right from day one was barbaric.

He said the true colours of the Government were visible first in Davangere, when the police suppressed the farmers’ agitation by using excessive force. The saga continued in Dharwad with the police opening tear-gas shells and resorting to lathi-charge to disperse the farmers. In Haveri, the situation had only grown worse.

Mr. Kharge said that the Government appears to have given a free hand to the police to suppress the agitation of the farming community. “Although the Congress party does not want to politicise the situation, we have to condemn the attitude of the police and the Government’s insensitiveness to the problems of the farmers,” he said. Using bullets against farmers would not be tolerated anymore, Mr. Kharge warned.

He said that there has been inconsistency in the stand of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and the Agriculture Minister Ravindranath on the issue of fertilizer and seed shortage in the State. While the Chief Minister has been repeatedly saying there was no shortage, the Agriculture Minister was accusing the Centre and the President’s Rule for the shortage.

He said that the State Government had no right to keep the farmers on tenterhooks by providing such contradicting stands. He added that there was a shortage of fertilizer and seeds in all the districts. During his review of the fertilizer shortage in Chitapur taluk in Gulbarga district today, Mr. Kharge said the officials said that as against the demand of 4,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, only 400 tonnes were available.

Mr. Kharge said that if the Government used a heavy hand again against the farmers, the Congress would be forced not to extend its support to the farmers’ organisations.