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Kilns’ closure, delay in crushing season leave thousands jobless in Muzaffargarh

Kilns’ closure, delay in crushing season leave thousands jobless in Muzaffargarh

MUZAFFARGARH: Thousands of people have become jobless after the closure of brick kilns in Muzaffargarh because of smog and now due to a delay in start of the crushing season.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Awami Raj Party Chairman Jamshed Dasti said if the mills did not start buying sugarcane, he along with farmers would start a Kissan Bachao Mazdoor Bachao Tehreek in the next two days.

He said where was Naya Pakistan which Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and Prime Minister Imran Khan used to talk about during the D-Chowk dharna days.

He said he had contacted the Environment Protection Department secretary about the closure of the kilns in Muzaffargah, and according to Mr Dasti, the secretary said he had not given orders to close the kilns.

Another Awami Raj Party leader Chaudhry Amir Karamat said the party would hold a demonstration at Kutchery Chowk against the closure of sugar mills and kilns. He said farmers were selling their cash crop as fodder to cattle farms. He said that in the previous years, kilns owners bought the cane as fuel at low rates.

Sugar mills say they will start buying cane from Dec 10. Seeing a delay in the crushing season, the farmers have started making jaggery (gur).

Farmers alleged that the mills would start the crushing season late knowing that they would have to cut their crops to cultivate the wheat crop.

Gur is being sold for Rs2,200 to Rs2,400 per 40 kilo. The government has fixed the prices of sugarcane at Rs180 per 40kg but last year the mills did not follow these rates. Most of the mills bought gur at Rs150.

A farmer from Qasba Gujrat Ghulam Esa said he was very happy when the PTI came into power because the party used to talk more about farmers’ issues. He said he was disappointed to see that for the first time the sugar mills could not start the crushing season on time.

Another farmer Kaleem Gurmani said the economic policies also affected the rates of cotton in the last two weeks. Earlier, rates of cotton were Rs4,000 per 40kg, but now it was being traded at Rs2,500. He said mostly farmers had delayed selling their yield in a hope to get better rates but they were disappointed by the policy of cotton factories.

Farmers demanded that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi work for pro-farmer policies.

SHOT DEAD: A woman who left Darul Aman with her family was killed by unidentified people late on Monday near Sarwar Shaheed Chowk, the police said.

Tasleem Bibi took shelter in Darul Aman on Monday after her husband Mohammad Ramzan beat her. Soon her brother-in-law and sister-in-law (bhabhi) came to Darul Aman and asked Tasleem to come back home. She agreed to leave the shelter and left Darul Aman for home with them in a car.

They were traveling on MM Road when unidentified gunmen opened fire at the car in a drive-by shooting.

Passersby said when they arrived at the scene, they saw Tasleem had died while her sister-in-law Neelam Bibi was injured and brother-in-law Mohammad Saqlain and car driver remained unhurt.

The Sarwar Shaheed Chowk police said that on the orders of District Police Officer Imran Kishwar, a case had been registered.

Her husband Ramzan would be arrested and investigated, according to Station House Officer Ghulam Mohyuiddin.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018

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