Chidambaram eases curbs on farmers
Hussainiwala October 23:
The Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, who today found himself at the receiving end of demands and petitions for improving the lot of people living in border areas, agreed to extend the time for farmers to work in their fields beyond the border fencing.
The farmers would now be allowed to start working at 6 am rather than 7.30 am; they will also be able to work longer till 6 pm whereas they were being forced to return by 5 pm till now. The Home Minister, who was here on a flying visit to lay the foundation of a viewers’ gallery at the Hussainiwala border, also responded favourably to the demand that border farmers be allowed to use electricity to pump water, and asked Border Security Force ( BSF ) officers to explore the possibility.
“I don’t know when but I do know that a day will come, sooner rather than later, when Hussainiwala border will be opened for trade between India and Pakistan,” said the Union Minister in his address. Relations with Pakistan would improve, he hoped, and people of both countries would be able to travel more freely. “ We are earnest about building a good relationship with our neighbour and trade between the two countries must resume,” he asserted emphatically.
He was conscious of the issues in the border areas of Punjab and is in regular correspondence with the Punjab Chief Minister, he added. Sukhbir Badal, deputy chief minister, Raman Srivastava, DGP, BSF, Janmeja Sekhon, irrigation minister, MP and MLAs of Ferozepur district and PS Gill, DGP, Punjab were among those who attended the function. The Union Minister handed over gift hampers to Pakistan Rangers and BSF Jawans.
Although the entire stretch of the road up to the venue was dotted with Congress flags, PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh alleged that invitation had not been extended to Congressmen unlike workers of the ruling coalition. However, Congress MLA Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi was given a place on the dias.