SWABI – Tobacco growers, supported by various political parties, here on Thursday staged a 20-mile long protest march against Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) and other national and multinational companies who allegedly refused to increase the price of the crop, ignoring the rising expenses costing the production.
Led by Arif Khan, Patron-in-Chief KCC, Muhammad Azam, president and general secretary, Liaqat Yousufzai they passed through tobacco cultivating lands. A number of growers of various villages joined their protest procession. The purchasing points of the companies were also covered across the district and they said that in Anbar and Youqabi attempts were made to kick off purchase but they did not allow them.
The growers rode over flying coaches, motorcycles, pickups Datsuns and cars, holding placards inscribed with anti-companies and PTB slogans, criticising the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ruling Awami National Party for its alleged “a complete silence” about the issue while its leaders had claimed that Swabi was second home of the Wali Bagh leaders.
Reaching to Karnal Sher Khan Chowk their protest converted into a public meeting where their leaders addressed them. During protest the traffic on Swabi-Mardan road remained disturbed and the commuters confronted problems.
They criticised PTB members belong to Swabi. MNA Usman Khan Tarakai of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, MNA, Pervez Khan Advocate of Awami National Party and Haji Rehmanullah, district president of ANP are members of the PTB. They alleged that they failed to come forward and adopted ‘wait and see’ policy at very critical struggle stage of the growers.
Before dispersing peacefully, they warned both the companies and PTB that they have plunged to the field for increasing the tobacco price and till the achievement of their single objectives their struggle would continue. They said that very soon they have planned to issue their new line of action. The purchase Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco and White Patta tobacco had already delayed due to continued protest of growers.