Protest against ‘deductions’ Farmer killed, another hurt as sugar mills guards open fire

FAISALABAD, Dec 17: A man was killed and another was injured on Saturday allegedly when guards of a sugar mills opened fire on the farmers protesting ‘exorbitant deductions’ from their sugarcane produce by the mills’ administration.

According to Balochni police, the incident occurred at the gate of Hunza Sugar Mills at Chak Jhumra visited by area farmers to sell their produce daily.

Police said an argument sparked between the mills officials deputed to weigh the produce and the farmers when the former started paying the latter for only 60 per cent of their total produce.

The farmers naturally objected to the 40 per cent deduction by the mills administration terming it unjustified.

According to some of the affected farmers, they also raised the issue with the mills administration, including its manager, but to no avail.

Sources said as the farmers were in talks with the administration at the mills gate, some of the on-duty guards tried to disperse them to which they protested.

The situation turned ugly when these guards opened fire on more than 100 protesting farmers, injuring two of them — Shahid
Anwar of Muthianwala and Atif Hameed of Chak 146-RB. Rest of the farmers were forced to run away.

As the injured were being rushed to the Allied Hospital, Faisalabad, one of them, Shahid, succumbed to his bullet injury. The other, Atif, was said to be stable at the hospital. Some of the protesters alleged requesting anonymity that the police, despite
being timely informed of the situation, reached the spot after about an hour of the firing which they claimed gave the accused time to flee the scene.

Death of Anwar sparked protest by his family members, villagers and fellow farmers who blocked the Jail Road in front of the Allied Hospital by placing the body there.

They demanded strict action against the accused guards and mills administration who allegedly ordered firing on protesters.

On being informed of the protest, the police officials arrived on the spot and held talks with the protesters, assuring them that action would be taken against the accused soon. The protesters dispersed after about one hour.

Jaranwala Town Police Officer SP Imran Kishwar told Dawn that a case under section 7 of the ATA and 109,148,149, and 302 of the PPC had been registered against the 10 nominated accused.

He said the accused including Anjum Shafiq, general manager of the mills, Saleem, Sajid, Qaiser, Azhar Chohanzada, Khalid Latif, Younas Jugni and Ghulam Haider were arrested and raids were on to arrest the mills owner, Saeed Jutt of Lahore.

The SP said the mills had been closed for further purchase.

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