MUMBAI: Angry over delayed payment for their crop, farmers have attacked and set on fire several offices of sugar factories in parts of western Maharashtra over the last two days, police said Sunday.
According to farmers' organisations, sugar mills in Maharashtra owe Rs 4,500 crores to sugarcane cultivators in pending dues.
A group of protesters torched the office of Krishna Sugar Factory at Karad in Satara district Friday, a police official said, adding some important documents, computers and furniture were destroyed in the blaze.
He said offences were registered against unidentified persons by the Karad rural police.
The office of another sugar factory in neighbouring Sangli was set on fire Saturday morning, an official from the Islampur police station said.
Protesters also vandalised and tried to torch the office of Kranti Sugar Factory at Walwa in Sangli district Saturday and later fled the spot, the officials said.
Offences were registered against unidentified persons for mischief and house-trespass, he said, adding no arrest had been made so far.
Farmers gathered at Gurudatt Sugar Factory's office at Shirol in Kolhapur Saturday, seeking better prices for their produce, a police official said.
The protesters, belonging to a local farmers' organisation, broke into the locked office and vandalised it, he said.
The Shirol police said it has booked 65 people for rioting and unlawful assembly but no arrest has been made yet.
"The information given by the state sugar commissioner clearly states that sugar factories have not paid dues worth Rs 4,500 crores to farmers," said Yogesh Pande, the spokesperson of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, a farmers' organisation.
He said, "Sugar factories claim that they still have unsold stocks of sugar from the previous year. But these factories have earned very well from the sale of molasses, ethanol, rectified spirits and other by-products".
The BJP-led government is a mute spectator to the farmers' plight, Pande said.