ISLAMABAD - Former President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the alleged manhandling and arrest of farmers in Lahore who were protesting against rise in pesticide prices and demanding immediate release of all detained farmers.

Over 250 farmers were beaten, some severely, by police and detained outside the Lahore press club on Wednesday for holding a peaceful protest demonstration.

“The farmers have a right to hold peaceful protest demonstration to demand justice and those who manhandled and bundled them into prison vans have transgressed authority and must be brought to book,” said the former President in a statement on Friday.

He deplored as ‘criminal’ the alleged continued neglect of the agriculture sector and farmers by the present government that has led to deep sense of frustration among the farming community and steep decline of agriculture in the country. He claimed that the present government was victimizing the farmers because the PPP government always supported the farming community. The PPP support to farmers increased national wealth as well as the purchasing power of the rural people and ushering in prosperity, he said.