Authorities on Friday called a 35-year-old farmer a fraudster and said he was a part of a procurement scam busted in June a day after he attempted suicide in Madhya Pradesh’s Harda district for alleged delay in payment for his gram crop produce.
The attempt came as farmers have been protesting across several states against farm reform laws passed in Parliament this week. The farmers are particularly angry over the absence of any mention of a minimum support price in the laws. The opposition Congress has thrown its weight behind the protests against the 35-year-old farmer’s alleged harassment ahead of the crucial by-polls to 28 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh. The by-polls are crucial to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government survival in the state as it enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the 230-member state assembly. The BJP needs to win nine out of the 28 seats. It currently has 107 seats. The Congress, which lost power in March when its 21 lawmakers resigned and paved the way for BJP’s return to power, has 88 members in the House with an effective strength of 202.
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Additional police superintendent Gajendra Singh said the farmer allegedly consumed poison outside a co-operative society in Harda on Thursday over the delay in payment for his 141-quintal gram produce a few months ago.
The farmer allegedly attempted suicide while a group of farmers was staging a protest in front of the society over delay in payment to them. During the protest, two other farmers also fainted, said police.
All three were rushed to a district hospital and later referred to Bhopal.
Harda collector Sanjay Gupta cited a cooperative department inquiry in June and said discrepancies were detected in stock and records of bills of purchase related to the society. “More than 5,100 quintals gram crop was found missing from the stock. In a further inquiry, it was found that fraudulently the manager of the society cleared fake bills of 71 farmers, who had not sold any crop to the society. …[the three farmers] are among them.”
He added a fraud case was registered against the manager, who cleared the bills. “I asked the police on Tuesday to book the villagers, who were part of the fraud,” said Gupta. He added revenue department officials also cross-checked the claim of the 35-year-old and found that 141 quintal grams could not have been produced from the piece of land he owns.
State agriculture minister Kamal Patel, who is from Harda, has ordered an inquiry into the alleged scam. “To check the claims of farmers, the agriculture department will conduct a separate inquiry.”
Congress leader PC Sharma met the farmers at a hospital in Bhopal and accused the BJP government of being unjust to the farmers. “Congress will join the protest of farmers in Harda as BJP-led state government is doing injustice to them.”
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