Khammam: The pungency of chillies at the Khammam chilli market was matched by the rage of farmers on Friday.
Chilli farmers of Khammam, angry at falling chilli prices, wreaked havoc on the market by raiding the chairman’s office and three other main offices.
They pelted stones at the offices for two hours, and the staff was forced to leave the place out of fear. The farmers then entered the offices and destroyed the furniture in protest against officials who had not responded to their demands.
They destroyed weighing machines and burned chilli at various places.
A constable who tried to control the farmers was pushed aside as they continued on their rampage. The farmers then walked into the cotton market and entered the market office.
They brought all the furniture out of the office and set it on fire. For four hours in the morning, the market resembled a war zone. Khammam Market Committee Chairman K. Krishna was not present at the time of the incident.
It is reported that traders have not been fixing the price of chilli for the day before picking up produce from the farmers. Just 45 days ago, the price of chilli was Rs 12,000 per quintal, but it has fallen gradually since then.
On Friday, traders were offering only Rs 2,400 per quintal. On that day, there were one lakh quintals of chillli in the Khammam Market.
Farmers who had come from Mahbubabad and Suryapet to sell their produce after a long wait were angered by the falling prices.
They staged a dharna against the traders, and demanded that the government intervene and fix the price of chilli.
Kodanda barred from ‘action zone’
Rattled by the anger of chilli farmers that led to ransacking of the Khammam market yard on Friday, the government stopped its detractors from taking advantage of the events by enforcing a clampdown.
TJAC chairman M. Kodandram was stopped at Mamillagudem, a village on the Khammam-Suryapet districts border and told to go back.
When the TJAC chief refused and started to protect the order, cops, led by SP Tafseer Iqbal and Khammam Rural ACP Suresh Kumar reached Mamillagudem and stopped his vehicle. They did not allow him enter Khammam district.
This resulted in heated exchanges, with the cops refusing to relent.
Later, Prof Kodandram was taken into custody and shifted to Suryapet and released there. High drama was witnessed while he was being shifted to Suryapet.
Rajaym Srinivas, a local, said: “I was witness to both incidents; the ransacking of Khammam market and the Kodandaram detention. There was no involvement of any politician in the market episode. It was pure farmer fury and nothing else. I left the Khammam and was on the way to Suryapet when I saw the detention of Kodandaram.”