Tribune News Service
Amritsar, October 22
As many as 26 trucks loaded with paddy from Uttar Pradesh were seized by the farmers sitting on protest against the farm legislations on the National Highway near Amritsar, in the past 24 hours.
The paddy lot arriving “illegally” from UP’s Aligarh, Bulandshahr and Sitarganj was ordered by the rice mills of Amritsar and Tarn Taran.
Rajewala sarpanch Dilbagh Singh said 20 trucks were intercepted on Wednesday and six during the wee hours of Thursday.
He said the trucks caught their fancy after one of the truck drivers stopped to enquire about a mill.
“We were bewildered to know that the truck was loaded with paddy from UP. They told us that thousands of paddy filled trucks from UP were heading towards Punjab. We have detained the drivers and operators and will not let them go unless police files FIR against the suppliers and the mill owners who ordered this illegal consignment,” he said.
“After going through documents, we found that one of the truck operators managed to reach here without proper documentation. This proves the whole administrative and police machinery is involved in this illegal trading,” he said.
Dilbagh Singh, who owned 10 acres of land, claimed that 1509 variety of paddy lot had been lying at his home for the want of buyers.
He said that the paddy was being supplied illegally to “kill the Punjab’s mandi system” and make way for invasion of corporate houses.
“In UP, the open market culture, against which we all have been protesting here, prevailed for long. Due to this, the farmers and traders look to selling their produce outside their state,” he said.
Elaborating further, another agitating farmer Harjit Singh said that in UP, the paddy was available for Rs 900-1,200 per quintal, whereas in Amritsar mandi the minimum rate is between Rs 1,788-1,888 per quintal.
“Going by the difference in procurement price (between Rs 500-700 per quintal), one truck load of paddy would fetch a profit of between Rs 2 lakh-Rs 2.5 lakh,” he said.
Another farmer and press secretary of the Kirti Kisan Union Jaswinder Singh Chhina said that the quality of the UP produced crop was quite inferior to what was produced in Punjab.
Truck driver Santosh Kumar, who hails from Aligarh, meanwhile, said that they were being harassed unnecessarily. “Neither the supplying firm in Aligarh is picking up the phone nor the receiver here. We have got stuck,” he said.
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