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Cong walkout over MP ryots being jailed

Written by: Staff
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Bhopal, Mar 6 (UNI) The main Opposition Congress today staged a walkout in the Madhya Pradesh assembly in support of a demand for withdrawing power theft-linked cases against farmers and also alleging that the treasury benches did not furnish a satisfactory reply on the problem.

Raising the matter during question hour, former minister Ramniwas Rawat (Cong) accused the government of straightaway incarcerating such peasants and, as a result, fear prevailed in cultivators' families.

''Ryots are incapable of settling bills as a compounding amount is added to outstanding bills,'' he pointed out.

Power Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya countered by saying that, in consonance with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's announcement, care was being taken not to jail farmers.

''The government concurs that the compounding amount is high and a reduction is being considered,'' he added.

Intervening in the discussion, Leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi alleged that the information furnished by the government was untrue.

''Industrialists have massive outstanding bills but proceedings are being initiated against peasants,'' she said and announced the walkout.

Earlier, Mr Rawat said 80 cultivators were taken into custody at Gwalior-Chambal division's Sheopur while the corresponding figure was 100 at Sabalgarh. He sought to know, from Mr Vijayvargiya, the precise number of incarcerated ryots.

''Section 135 of the Electricity Reforms Act 2003 enshrines a provision that bestows the right to hear such cases only on a special court. That is why some farmers were initially taken into custody,'' the minister said.

Stating that power theft was a major problem, he added that it was impossible to halt proceedings against the crime.

Mr Ramlakhan Sharma (CPI-M) and Dr Sunilam (SP) also said the government should settle such cases by exacting the actual bill amount alone.

''The act itself should be repealed,'' felt Dr Sunilam.

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