Farmers decide to intensify protest
Chandigarh November 16:
The Punjab government’s troubles with state farmers have just begun. After yesterday’s agitation, when rail traffic was adversely hit following a combined protest of farmer unions, the farmers have now decided to intensify their protest.
Lashing out in anger against the way the government chose to handle the farmers agitation yesterday, president of the Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) Hardev Singh Sandhu said, “For us now Badal is as good or as bad as Manmohan Singh. The government clamped down around the villages yesterday and did not allow farmers to gather. They closed all roads. If this is the way they treat us, we will deal with them in the same way,” he said.
Seven farmer unions, led by the KKU, are demanding additional bonus on paddy and remunerative price for cotton produce. “The MSP announced by the government for paddy was Rs 200 less than what was recommended by the Agriculture Costs and Price Commission. Farmers had to resort to distress selling of cotton after government agencies delayed entering mandis,” said Sandhu.
“We had an hour-long meeting with the Chief Minister yesterday. We asked him not to put the entire blame on the Centre for all our problems. We urged him that the state government should take proactive measures to help farmers. However, he showed complete helplessness stating that the state was in dire financial straits,” alleged Sandhu.
“We pointed out that the huge expenditure his party was going to undertake during the coming elections should instead be diverted to help us. His response was that money is needed to fight elections,” said Sandhu. Sandhu said the Punjab government was following anti-agriculture and anti- employment polices in the name of development. “Focus should be on promoting agriculture and generate employment,” said Sandhu.
The KKU, along with Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) BKU (Krantikari), BKU (Dakotta) Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Punjab Kisan Union, will be reviving agitation from next week. Advisor to the Chief Minister D.S. Cheema said the government would be reiterating the farmers’ demands to the Centre.