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Nashik farmer, who sent money order to PM for ₹1,064, cries foul over ‘political’ probe

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on December 06, 2018 Published on December 05, 2018

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Only wanted to highlight onion farmers’ plight, says Sanjay Sathe; district administration denies looking at his affiliations

The Nashik district administration has come under fire for reportedly probing the ‘political affiliation’ of Sanjay Sathe, a farmer who sent a money order for ₹1,064 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw his attention to the crisis being faced by onion farmers.

Last week, Sathe, a resident of Naitale village in Niphad tehsil of Nashik district, got a measly ₹1,064 as he sold his harvest of onions weighing 750 kg onion (which translates to ₹1.41 a kg) in the wholesale market. He had invested ₹75,000 in the cultivation of the bulbs.

After the Prime Minister’s Office took cognisance of his money order, the district administration swung into action.

“I thought that they would start a probe why farmers are in distress and onion prices are crashing, but they are investigating my political affiliation. My friends and relatives are being questioned. I am just a farmer and I don’t have any connection with any political party,” Sathe told BusinessLine.

He added that he had sent the money order to the PM to draw his attention to the problems onion farmers are facing. The Lasalgaon Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Nashik is the largest wholesale market for onions in Asia.

‘An attempt to cover up’

Sathe said, “I have nothing to do with politics. But it seems that the administration and the government want to give it a political colour and cover up my concerns under the wrap of politics.”

Sathe cultivates grapes, onion and vegetables in his two-acre land. “I was offered ₹1 per kg for my onion at the Niphad wholesale market last week. But after negotiating for hours, I got ₹1.40 per kg. I was really agitated and that’s why I sent the money order on November 29 to the Prime Minister saying that I don’t want the money and the same should go towards the Disaster Relief Fund,” Sathe said.

“ I did this not to earn publicity. I am really concerned about our future,” he said, adding that he was one of the few progressive farmers from the State who were selected by the Agriculture Ministry to interact with former US President Barack Obama in 2010.

The Tehsildar and other government officials are contacting Sathe’s friends, relatives and local scribes to collect information about him and check if his action was politically motivated.

The district administration, however, denied Sathe’s allegations that his political affiliations have come under the scanner. Nashik District Collector Radhakrishnan B told BusinessLine that the administration was not probing his political affiliation.

Report sent to govt

“No such thing has happened. It is baseless. It is not about checking political affiliation. We wanted to know if it is a fake news. Other things are also there. We just wanted to know whether the farmer exists. That’s it. We never asked for his political affiliation; we never do these things,” he said.

He added that the district administration has forwarded the District Deputy Registrar’s report on the matter to the government.

Interestingly, the report mentions that Sathe got a lower price for his produce because the onions he brought to the market were “substandard”. However, Sathe questioned the report saying that thousands of farmers who had brought their onion to the wholesale market last week got similar rates. “All farmers got the same rate as I did. Does this mean their produce was also substandard?” he asked.

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Published on December 05, 2018
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