Haryana farmers who had blocked a major national highway for more than 21 hours in order to demand early paddy procurement have lifted the blockade after the state government relented. The protest has caused significant traffic delays on National Highway 44 around Kurukshetra.
According to Gurnam Singh Charuni, whose organisation Bharatiya Kisan Union-Charuni was leading the protests, the state has now said it will begin moving all paddy stored in grain markets, though official purchase documents will be processed on October 1, as previously announced. It’s now their headache to figure out where they’re going to store it, he added.
The state has also raised the procurement cap in five districts with high crop yields – from 22 to 30 quintals per acre, he said, adding that it has been raised to 28 quintals per acre in several other districts.
The Haryana government caved shortly after being summoned to court for failing to anticipate a breakdown in law and order. The court instructed them that the highway must be kept open for free flow and movement of traffic “so that the general public is not inconvenienced.”
The Punjab and Haryana high courts said in a midnight hearing that the district administration should have taken immediate steps to prevent the situation. The court also ordered the state to take measures to prevent further deterioration of law and order. “Using force should be the last option, and only if the administration has no other options,” it stated.
Surinder Singgh Bhoria, Superintendent of Police in Kurukshetra, stated that all diversions have been removed and traffic has resumed normal operations. He stated that they reached an amicable settlement with the farmers.
Farmers protesting feared that humidity and rain would spoil the grain. They also stated that they do not have storage space and that the state government should move the procurement date forward.
Protesters claim that hundreds of quintals of grain were destroyed in grain markets in Ambala, Kaithal, and other districts due to an increase in “moisture content,” which is also used to assess the quality of paddy before purchase.
The formal procurement process begins on October 1. Several farmers, however, sowed the crop early or used early-maturing varieties.