Bhopal: A group of farmers in Madhya Pradesh has come up with an exchange offer idea for the prime minister of Pakistan where citizens are suffering due to the skyrocketing prices of tomatoes.
These farmers used to send tonnes of this pulpy vegetable to Pakistan until ties between the two neighbouring countries started deteriorating and reached rock bottom following a terror attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian paramilitary troops in February.
Soon after, India conducted an aerial strike on Pakistan’s Balakot region, following which Pakistan conducted an air raid on Indian military installations in Kashmir that the Indian Air Force foiled.
Relations further deteriorated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of its Constitution that granted special status to Kashmir.
The farmers from Jhabua have now started to feel the heat of these strained ties as their business got affected due to a halt in export of vegetables. With citizens of both countries suffering due to high prices of food items, they came up with the idea of writing to Pakistan PM Imran Khan.
They have suggested Khan to return Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to India, hand over terrorist Hafiz Saeed and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, apologise for “past sins” and take tomatoes from them. The farmers have put their letter to Khan on Twitter, tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan embassy in the post.
Ever since the ban on export of vegetables, tomato prices have hit the rooftop in Pakistan and the vegetable is selling at Rs 400 per kg there. Several tehsils in Jhabua, especially Petlawad, have been exporting tomatoes to Pakistan for the past several years.
The farmers also staged a protest in Jhabua on Sunday wherein they shouted “PoK do-Tamatar lo” (Give PoK, take tomatoes).
“We heard through media reports that people in neighbouring country are buying tomatoes at Rs 300/400 a kg and we believe that if their PM considers tendering an apology, we too may think of offering tomatoes to them through Wagah border,” said an elderly farmer.
Mahendra Hapad, the head of Bharatiya Kisan Union Jhabua, told News18 that the farmers have sought an unconditional apology from Khan, besides asking him to hand over Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim and peacefully returning PoK.
“If the Pakistan PM agrees to the conditions, our district unit would consider resuming exports and would urge the government of India to continue supplies,” read the letter. The farmers in Jhabua used to export tomatoes at Rs 400 to 500 a crate (around 25kg) when the relations were normal between the two neighbours.