64 farmers held, many get notice for burning stubble in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: The issue of burning of parali (waste of paddy crop) by farmers in northern states, which has led to critical air pollution in the national capital region over the past few days, has resulted in the arrest of 64 farmers in western Uttar Pradesh over the last two days.

Farmers in several districts allege they are being harassed and tortured by the police over the farm waste matter.

"Over 64 farmers have been arrested and 584 police cases have been registered in the state on the parali burning. Moreover, over 970 farmers and more than 140 gram pradhans have been served notices for burning the farm waste which results in air pollution", agriculture minister Suryapratap Shahi admitted in a statement.

The development has led to discontent among the farming community mainly because most growers have no access to any other technique apart from burning it so that they can grow the next crop. “We have no other option but to burn parali although the process damages the soil,” a farmer from Bulandshahr said.

The arrests and alleged harassment of farmers have intensified the political war in the state.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi posted on Twitter, “Are only farmers responsible for pollution? When will action be taken against the real polluters? ...Farmers vote is legal, Farmers Paddy is legal, but Farmers parali is illegal?”

She hailed his party workers in Saharanpur for trying to get the arrested farmers released.

Aam Admi Party equated the arrests as “dictatorship” and said such action will lead to unrest. Vaibhav Maheshwari, AAP spokesperson in UP, alleged, “The Yogi government has failed to provide a solution of parali to farmers and now it is treating farmers as goons. If this dictatorship continues, farmers will have to leave farming and come on roads to protest.”

Maheshwari said that the AAP government in Delhi has roped in scientists to address the issue. “Farmers are being provided with a chemical which converts parali into fertilizer.”

In a veiled attack on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BJP both, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav posted on Twitter, “Those who are arresting farmers in the name of pollution should tell will they take action against political polluters?...Farmers will dig out BJP’s farm.”

After pressure from his opponents, Yogi issued a statement, "Farmers should not be harassed or tortured while taking action on parali buring. Agriculture department must hold an awareness program among the farming community instead."

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