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Pune-based dairy Sonai sends defamation notice to 4 farm leaders

The Pune-headquartered Indapur Dairy and Milk products Ltd, the company which retails under the brand name of Sonai, Tuesday wrote to the Solapur Superintendent of Police seeking action against farm leaders who allegedly “defamed” the dairy on social media and other platforms.

This comes in the backdrop of a protest by the dairy farmers of the region against the decision of the dairies to revise the procurement price of milk. At present, the dairies are paying the farmers Rs 34-Rs 35/litre of milk containing 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent Solid Not Fat (SNF). A few weeks back, the procurement price was in the range of Rs 37-Rs 38/litre.

Indapur Dairy and Milk products Ltd has also sought police protection for its milk tankers from the protesting farmers and sent a legal notice to four farm leaders for having “intentionally” defamed them. The four leaders are Deepak Bhosale and Rahul Bidve of Rayat Kranti Sanghatna, and Sachin Patil and Sachin Atkale of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna.

Speaking to The Indian Express , Dasrath Mane, chairman and executive director of the dairy, said they were “forced to take action given the intentional defamation being carried out by the so-called farm leaders”. “Those who are at the forefront of the protest have nothing to do with the dairy business,” he said.

“We are India’s largest dairy and we procure milk from lakhs of farmers. Milk prices are linked closely to the complex economics of demand and supply. At present, the corrections are because of excess supply and slow demand. It’s not just Sonai but all dairies have taken to price corrections given the lack of liquidity in the markets,” he said.

The protests, Mane said, were directed against Sonai to portray them as a “villain”. “Our farmers have never complained about late payment or dishonest behaviour. The protesters are intentionally targeting us,” he said.

When contacted, Patil said they will continue their protest against the dairy. “We will reply in our own style. In a democracy, the people’s voice cannot be silenced,” he said.

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