SWABI: The farmers, whose crops were destroyed by hailstones, staged a sit-in in outside the office of deputy commissioner here on Monday to press the government for acceptance of their demands.

The call for protest was given by Kisan Board (KB), Kasthkar Coordination Council (KCC) and Ajuman-i-Kashtharan (AK), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Despite Razaman, the growers reached the district headquarters from the calamity-hit villages and marched to the deputy commissioner office.

They were holding placards inscribed with different demands.

The tobacco, wheat and vegetables crops had completely destroyed by the hailstones.

The growers demanded of the government to constitute a team of experts to determine the losses inflicted on them. They said that financial assistance should be provided to them from the Rs150 billion package announced by the government and though different taxes imposed on tobacco every year.

Addressing the protesters, KCC provincial general secretary Liaqat Yousafzai said that it was the responsibility of the government to help the poor growers, who attached all their hopes with their crops yield and did not have any other sources of livelihood.

Tobacco Growers Association Pakistan central general secretary Mohammad Ali Dagiwal and KB district president Khalid Khan said that the growers had attached great expectation with the provincial government, hoping that they would get assistance to maintain their profession of farming.

AK provincial general secretary Alam Sher Gohati said that hailstones ruined the two cash crops as well as the hopes and expectations of the farmers. He said that without government’s help, it would be difficult for them to survive.

Later, the protesters held talks with Deputy Commissioner Shahid Mehmood and apprised him about their losses and problems.

The deputy commissioner assured the grower leaders that all possible steps would be taken to help them.

Meanwhile, the local leaders of political parties backed the farmers and demanded of the national and multinational companies to come forward to play their due role to save future of the growers.

“The companies should help the growers. The leaders of political parties must shun differences and push the politics aside and work collectively for the farmers,’’ said Masood Jabar, district chairman of Qaumi Watan Party.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2020