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BKU begins agitation in UP on cane dues, farm laws

Lucknow : The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has launched a state-level agitation against the new farm laws and to demand clearance of cane dues, with hundreds of activists sitting on an indefinite dharna at the collectorate premises across the state.

The BKU leaders said if their demands are not met, they will celebrate all festivals inside the premises, disrupting regular work.

In Rampur, hundreds of farmers on bullock carts and tractor trolleys gathered at the collectorate under the BKU’s banner on Monday to protest against the three farm reform laws.

Rampur BKU district president Haseeb Ahmad said, “Farmers have been in financial distress since the pandemic outbreak and the lockdown. Now, on top of this the sugarcane dues are pending and Parliament has passed bills that will ruin their lives. The dharna will continue till the Union government withdraws these anti-farmer laws.”

Across the state, sugarcane crushing season has begun, with 35 sugar mills out of 119 having started operations. But according to an official, though the mills have paid off around Rs 29,000 crore dues from the last season, they still collectively owe Rs 66,000 crore to 40 lakh sugarcane growers in Uttar Pradesh.

In Bijnor, scores of cane farmers led by state president of BKU’s youth wing, Digambar Singh, have pitched tents inside the collectorate premises.

Singh said, “The government has failed to get mills to clear cane dues on time, pushing farmers into financial distress.

They need money to pay labourers for harvesting cane, but are being forced to take banks loans to run their families instead. Farmers cooperated with the government during the lockdown by not demanding their dues. But, the lockdown is over and mills are still not paying up.”

The farmers said, “Crushing season has begun, but the state advised price (SAP) is yet to be cleared. We are demanding that the new SAP be hiked from Rs 325 to Rs 450 per quintal. We are also against the new ‘anti farmer’ farm laws.”

A state-level cane officer, on condition of anonymity, said that a meeting to decide the new SAP will be held soon, and that the state government was taking steps to get mills to clear their dues.

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