BAHAWALPUR

Thousands of farmers protested against two sugar mills by parking their sugarcane-filled trolleys on the Shahi Road due to non-payment and “undue deduction” from their produce.

The protesters said that the administration of Hamza Sugar Mills located at Jhatta Bhatta near Rahim Yar Khan had deducted 2,800 to 3,200 kilogrammes of sugarcane from each trolley which was brought their by the farmers from different areas. As the farmers refused to accept the deduction, the mills administration forced them to get their trolleys out of the mills. Afterwards, they placed their trolleys loaded with the produce on the side of the road and staged the demonstration in front of the mills.

They continued the protest for two hours. Meanwhile, General Manager Mehar Ahmad Baksh Siyal negotiated with the farmers and assured them that no illegal deduction would be made whereupon the farmers dispersed. During their protest, the traffic on Shahi Road remained suspended.

Saddar Police Station House Officer Rana Muhammad Arshad and check-post In-charge Haji Muhammad Safdar Jatt reached the spot and restored the traffic. Farmers’ leader Riaz Ahmad Cheema, Jaam Ganga and Syed Mazharul Haq Bukhari said that behaviour of the “mills mafia” during the crushing season 2013-14 was the worst as compared to the previous years and if it continued, the farmer would certainly get into worst financial crisis.

In Goth Mehraab near Musafir Khana, Ashraf Sugar Mills has not paid the farmers and made deductions which led to a protest against the sugar mills administration. Under the aegis of the Pakistan Farmers Unity, thousands of farmers staged the demonstration in front of the mills and blocked its gates which suspended the sugarcane supply to it.

Police arrived on the spot and tried to stop the protest and when they failed in doing so, Assistant Commissioner Saddar Rai Abdul Hafeez Bhatti and DSP Saddar Ghulam Raja Abbas reached there. Unity President Hafiz Hafeez Ahmad Malik said that as long as the mills administration kept on looting the farmers, the protest would continue. He added that farmers were still waiting for their amounts for three months. He said that Mills Deputy General Manager Basheer Kahlon had made various promises but to no avail.

They further said that deductions of 2,000 to 4,000 kg made no sense and was totally illegal. The assistant commissioner and the DSP along with the members of farmers met with the Ashraf Sugar Mill’s General Manager Chaudhry Younis and reviewed the whole scenario.

The mills administration then assured the officials that it would make the payments to the farmer till 10th of March and would not make deductions. Farmers’ leaders said that if administration did not pay the amounts to the farmers, they would take over the mills by throwing the administration out.