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Disgruntled farmers, apple growers hold massive rally in Shimla

Over 27 farmer organisations have decided not to give up their stir and hold a joint agitation in the state capital till the BJP government accepts their outstanding demands. Opposition closes ranks in solidarity with the Himachal farmers.

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Putting the BJP-led government in the state in the dock for failing to protect the interests of the apple growers in Himachal Pradesh, hundreds of farmers, particularly apple growers, under the banner of Sanyukt Kisan Manch on Friday, held a massive demonstration in Shimla.

Over 27 farmer organisations, including men and women from the apple belt of the region who have been holding protests in their respective areas, are on dharna for the last few days. They have decided not to give up their stir and hold a joint agitation in the state capital till the government implements their demands.

They marched the 3-km stretch from Navbhar up to the secretariat, the seat of the government at Chotta Shimla, pressing for their demands. They said the “anti-farmer policies” of both the state and the Centre governments were posing a threat to the Rs 5,500-crore apple economy in the state.

The farmers maintained that owing to the wrong policies of the state government including the imposition of undue taxes, increased cost of production the farmers were not able to get a better price for their produce.

Their main demands include rollback of increased Goods and Service Tax (GST) on apple cartons which has been increased from 12 percent to 18 percent, subsidy on fertilizers and pesticides, implementation of Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) on the pattern of Kashmir and strict implementation of APMC Act in the state.

Sanyukt Kisan Manch convenors Sanjay Chauhan and Harish Chauhan threatened that if the state government does not implement their demands they will be forced to intensify their agitation and will continue to protest till the Assembly election that is slated by the year-end.

Rising above party lines, Opposition Congress, AAP, and CPIM expressing solidarity also extended support to the farmer’s protest. CPIM Member of Legislative Assembly (Theog), Rakesh Singh said that the government that fails to protect the interest of the people has no right to remain in power.