Multiple complaints of traders cheating farmers after MP enacts law allowing them to buy produce outside mandi

MP amended Krishi Upaj Mandi Adhiniyam Act of 1972 and passed the Model Mandi Act in May, which allows traders to purchase farm goods, without a market fee being levied, from outside the mandi

Representative Image
Representative Image

Kashif Kakvi

Even as farmers agitating at Delhi’s borders are insisting on repeal of the three farm laws enacted by the NDA govt, farmers in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh have reported as many as 179 cases of being cheated by private traders after the state amended Krishi Upaj Mandi Adhiniyam Act of 1972 and passed the Model Mandi Act in May, which allows traders to purchase farm goods, without a market fee being levied, from outside the mandi.

These include 71 farmers getting cheated in Seoni Malwa, 61 in Hoshangabad, 24 in Gwalior, 13 in Guna, eight in Balaghat, and one each in Barwani and Jabalpur districts respectively. So far, only three such cases have been resolved by the state government.

The most recent incident was reported from Seoni Malwa district. The district police on Wednesday filed FIR against a private trader named Aditya Raj Kobra for allegedly defrauding 71 farmers in Nandarwada village of Rs 85 lakh.

One of the complainants, Rafeeq Shah, alleged that Kobra failed to pay him for 20.9 quintals of grain at the rate of Rs 2,400 per quintal. Some other small and medium farmers from the village also said he had defrauded them after buying wheat, paddy, moong, soybean and corn grains worth Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.

The trader had promised to pay them within three days, but when he did not respond even after seven days, the farmers reached his house to confront him. They found that he was not present there, and even his wife, Rajani Bhusare, was preparing to escape.

They immediately informed the police and lodged a complaint against the trader. Later, the police detained his wife for questioning.

Another incident reported from Hoshangabad involved a rice company which allegedly cheated 60 farmers of Rs 70 lakh. Following this, two farmers, Anil Sharma and Mithilesh Chowdhary, said they would henceforth sell their produce only at the mandis.

In Guna’s Jamra village, 13 farmers sold 61 quintals of coriander (dhaniya) worth Rs 20.02 lakh to a trader named Devendra Aggrawal in June in the hope of getting a better price for their produce. However, six months on, they have not been paid. After they lodged police complaints, they have been received threatening calls from the trader.

“Mandi me bechte the to hatho hath paisa mil jata tha. Ab paise nahi milne se 1 lakh rupye ka karz lekar kisani kar raha hu,” said Manoj Dhakar (25), one of the farmers who was cheated by Aggrawal.

He had sold his produce outside the mandi premises after the state enacted the Model Mandi Act.

“After the police registered a case of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC based on our complaint, Aggrawal sent goons to my house armed with sticks and rods who threatened to kill us if we didn’t withdraw the case or reach a settlement with him,” said another farmer, Ram Krishan, who owns nearly 25 acres of farm land.

When contacted, Guna district collector Kumar Purushottam said, “It is true that Devendra Aggrawal purchased the farm produce of Rs 20 lakh from 13 farmers and didn’t pay them. The trader is from Rajasthan and doesn’t own any property in the district. His bank balance is just Rs 400.”

In view of the growing number of such cases, the State Mandi Board on December 14 issued a circular and asked joint director of the Mandi boards to keep a track of such cases where farmers are being cheated by private traders.

Commenting over it, Sandeep Yadav, Managing Director of State Mandi Board said, “The decision has been taken to keep a track on the cases of cheating with the farmers.”

Other unresolved cases

In Gwalior, 24 farmers complained to the sub divisional magistrate that a trader who had purchased produce worth Rs 10 lakh from them was untraceable for two months. An FIR was filed and the district administration is in the process of seizing the trader’s house. The police is also trying to locate his property in Ahmedabad.

In Balaghat, a group of paddy farmers approached the police in Lanchi tehsil and said a rice mill owner was not paying for their produce which he had purchased. The SDM formed a panel to resolve the issue on December 13, but the trader is absconding. The process to seize his property is now underway.

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