Violence after Bareilly sugar mill guards shoot farmer

LUCKNOW: Death of a farmer in firing by security guards of a sugar mill in Fareedpur area of Bareilly triggered angry protests on Friday.

The farmers blocked the Bareilly-Delhi highway demanding arrest of the guilty, including the AGM of the mill and compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the victim’s family. The blockade was lifted after arrest of the guards, but the farmers refused to lift the siege till all their demands were met.

The incident occurred when a farmer, Pankaj Sharma, went to meet the mill officials to negotiate prices for press mud, a by-product of sugar used as manure by farmers.

“The mill is selling press mud at Rs 10 per quintal, whereas other mills in the area are giving it for Rs 1-2 per quintal. Pankaj was talking to the AGM when one of the security guards hit him with a baton. At this, angry farmers gheraoed the mill demanding action against the guard. Seeing angry farmers marching towards them, the guards started firing in which Pankaj was killed,” claimed Somveer Singh, a farmer leader, while narrating the incident to TOI on mobile phone.

Enraged over Pankaj’s death, the farmers blocked the highway and indulged in vandalism and arson in the mill. Senior officers, including the DM and DIG of police rushed to the spot. Security guard Balbir, who fired the bullet which reportedly killed Pankaj, was arrested along with two others. DIG Prakash D told TOI that the matter has been resolved.

But farmers were in no mood to relent. “We want mill officials to treat farmers with respect,” said Somveer Singh.

President of Kisan Jagriti Manch Sudhir Kumar said the government should direct mills to give press mud, produced during processing of cane to extract sugar, to farmers. “The Press Mud Control Order, 1959, had provision of giving press mud to farmers but it was repealed in 2006. The mills now sell press mud to brick kiln to be used as a fuel. Brick kiln owners offer over Rs 100 for a quintal of press mud, which is several times more than what farmers can pay,” he added.

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