WATCH | Wheat crop of poor farmers in Jammu destroyed for PM Modi’s poll rally
Over two dozen families will not be able to cultivate their farms for several crop seasons as their land has been covered by concrete and tar in Akhnoor, Jammu and Kashmir
Though it is about ten km away from Indo-Pak border, Malpur Dumi village resembles a battle ground on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Akhnoor sector.
Standing wheat crops have been trampled by troopers and the fields fenced with barbed wire while earthmovers and road rollers have paved the land with concrete and tar.
PM Modi is slated to sound the bugle for the battle of the ballots from this village Thursday, March 28. That’s why the preparation by the troopers on a war footing.
Farms with three helipads, a stage and flat open land for the audience have been readied for the PM’s poll rally.
Farmers were expecting a bumper crop, after five years due to timely rains and looking forward to celebrating the festival of harvest, Baisakhi, when the calamity struck them.
With their standing crops covered by tar and mortar, over two dozen families will not be able to cultivate their farms for several crop seasons.
As the PM’s poll rally schedule was announced, the BJP Sarpanch of the village, accompanied by his band of musclemen, told the farmers to give up their nearly ripe wheat crops on 50 kanals.
After the poor farmers raised a hue and cry, each of them were paid between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 per kanal as compensation.
When the farmers approached the sub-divisional magistrate, the revenue official asked them to file a written complaint. No one dared to put their complaint in writing.
To cover-up the strong arm tactics of the BJP goons, television channels reported bytes of some farmers claiming they were sacrificing their crop for their “Bhagwan’s historic visit to their village”.
But a reality check by this reporter revealed that none of the farmers shown on the TV belonged to the families that have lost their premature wheat crop.
A visit to Malpur Dumi village, about 1 km from Jammu-Poonch highway, revealed the devastation caused to the standing crops by troopers and heavy machinery for laying three helipads, a concrete approach road to the stage erected in the middle of a farm.
Bomb disposal squads were seen combing the lush green farms accompanied by gun-toting troopers while some of the security men were busy laying rings of concertina wires cutting through the wheat fields. The crops belonging to 20 households on 50 kanals have been cut.
The videos shot and circulated on social networking sites by BJP cyber cell warriors, showing farmers cutting the wheat crop as they lauded PM Modi, were found misleading. The farms actually don’t belong to them, according to residents.
“The first farmer in the video Mosha son of Puran Singh of Dumi, second person who is sporting a red T-shirt, Sham Lal, son of Gardarb Singh, and the third person behind him, Ajit Singh son of Sian Dass who is an employee of the state irrigation department, have their land on the other side of the rally venue,” a local resident disclosed, pleading anonymity.
“The local Sarpanch, a BJP functionary, had engaged these people for cutting the wheat after promising them to take away the harvest as fodder for their cattle,” he said. Due to shortage of green fodder in the area, local farmers are purchasing fodder for Rs. 10 per kg. They were happy to have the fodder free of cost.
“The local BJP functionaries have given something between Rs. 2000-3000 per kanal to the affected families as compensation. But the compensation is inadequate and the farmers who have lost their crop are sulking over damage to their agricultural land,” he said.
“We have lost standing crop on five kanal. The people of Sarpanch gave us pittance in lieu of the damaged crop and using our land for the rally. Now they have thrown concertina wires in our adjacent farms restricting us from venturing into our own farms,” said Sawitri Devi, 80, staring at her farms where earth movers have been laying helipads and trucks have brought in iron-barricades.
“They have uprooted a tree on my farm without seeking permission. Now they have been covering the farms with tar. Once the rally is over, who will restore the agricultural land to its original position and mark the boundaries again,” Devi complained. “This is sheer bullying. They are not doing any service to the poor. They are destroying our livelihoods,” she said.
A local resident and former chairman of Panchayat Judicial Committee, Jang Bahadur Singh apprehended that soon after the Prime Minister is gone, farmers would find themselves embroiled in feuds over boundaries of their respective farms. “The judicial committee during my tenure used to receive over a dozen applications over settlement of such disputes every year. Now the number of such complaints will increase manifold,” Singh claimed.
Another local farmer pointed out that top layer of the soil measuring 6 has fertility. “How will we restore the soil fertility once the surface is covered by tar and mortar,” he said.
“This year, many farmers were expecting a bumper crop after a gap of over five years due to timely rains. But they have destroyed the crop and the farmers will have to face a lot of hardships in the near future,” Singh said, adding that “the rally could have been held somewhere else”.
A government functionary said that Prime Minister Modi’s mega rally is a private function and the administration had only a supervisory role. “Some people had telephoned and expressed their resentment about destruction of their crop. I asked them to file a written complaint, but we haven’t received any complaint so far,” said Sub-Divisional Magistrate Jammu North Satish Sharma.
Two sitting BJP MPs, Jugal Kishore Sharma and Union minister Jitendra Singh, are seeking re-election from Jammu and Udhampur constituencies, which will go to polls on April 11 and April 18.
Published: 27 Mar 2019, 7:49 PM