Jaipur, Feb 22 (PTI) Opposition parties today cornered the BJP government in Rajasthan on several issues related to farmers in the state and the arrest of their leaders who had planned to hold a ‘dharna’ outside the Assembly complex here. Also Read - Thrashing of Dalits: Rahul Calls it ‘Horrific,’ Rajasthan Govt Says ‘Nobody Will be Spared’

Raising the issues during the Zero Hour discussion in the Assembly, Independent MLA Hanuman Beniwal said the police have arrested 70 farmers and two former MLAs on Tuesday. He called the arrests an “oppressive action” by the state government. Also Read - Rajasthan Municipal Election 2019 Updates: Congress Wins 961 Seats, BJP Bags 737 Wards

Hundreds of farmers had threatened to stage a ‘mahapadav’ (mass sit-in) near the Assembly in support of their demands, including waiving of loans and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission Report, and to protest the arrest of farmer leaders – Amra Ram and Pema Ram. Also Read - High Birth Rate of Muslims Will Lead to Another Partition: Gulab Chand Kataria

The ‘mahapadav’ was called by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

Beniwal said the government should completely waive farm loans, instead of only waiving Rs 50,000 of the loans.

National People’s Party MLA Kirodi Lal Meena said the arrest of the two former MLAs should not have happened.

Calling the state government a failure, Opposition Whip Govind Singh Dotasara said the BJP during its ‘Suraj Sankalp Yatra’ in April 2013, ahead of the last Assembly polls in the state, had made several promises to farmers, but it failed to fulfil them, such as purchasing crops on minimum support price and implementation of Swaminathan panel recommendations.

Dotasara said farmers are forced to agitate and commit suicide but the government takes no action. The government waived short-term loans with a rider of only Rs 50,000, he said.

When the farmers felt betrayed, he said, they decided to protest but their leaders were arrested. “It is unfortunate that farmers are not allowed to protest in a democracy.” Replying to the charges, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria acknowledged that the issues raised were serious and said everyone has a right to protest in a democracy but police officials were bound to follow court directives.

According to the high court directives, dharnas or sit-ins can be staged near the complex only from 12pm to 4pm. But the protesters did not disclose the time and place for their “indefinite mahapadav” and the government had asked respective district collectors to hold talks with farmers.

Kataria said the police have arrested 179 people under various sections from Chomu, Kala Dera, Jhunjhunu, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Churu today. Of total arrested, 17 were released on bail. The police have stopped around 2,000 people and 50 vehicles at various places.

Farmers from various parts of the state were heading to the state capital to stage the protest, proposed for today.

Cooperative Department Minister Ajay Singh Kilak said the state’s BJP government has taken the step to waive farm loans of up to Rs 50,000, which will benefitting 20 lakh farmers.

During the Question Hour, several other issues were raised, including reservation for the Gurjar community and ban on river sand mining by the Supreme Court, which affects construction-related works in the state. PTI SDA ABH ABH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.