Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

Farm Bills: Distraught Farmers Protests In Punjab, Haryana

Farmers at several places in Punjab on Sunday burnt copies of farm bills and effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the bills related to the agriculture sector will destroy their livelihood.

Representational Image File photo

The farmers have expressed apprehensions that the three bills will pave a way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.

Farmers in Haryana began their protest against the agriculture-related farm bills on Sunday amid elaborate security arrangements which have been made to ensure that the event passes off smoothly.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union's Haryana unit, supported by some other farmer outfits, is holding a statewide protest against the Centre's farm bills during which protesters will block roads for three hours from 12 pm to 3 pm.

The farmers are also joined by the 'arhitiyas' or commission agents during their protest.

Farmers at several places in Punjab on Sunday burnt copies of farm bills and effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the bills related to the agriculture sector will destroy their livelihood.

At many places, including Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Sangrur and Barnala, the protesters raised slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre.

"These farm bills will destroy the farmers and farm labourers and we strongly oppose these bills," a farmer in Talwandi Sabo.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said all parties, except the Akali Dal and the BJP, are standing with the farmers for their cause.

He slammed Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, accusing him of earlier supporting these "black laws".

The Punjab Youth Congress, also started a 'tractor rally' from Punjab to Delhi against the Centre's farm-related measures.

The rally started from Mohali district in the morning and was moving on the national highway towards Ambala.

However, the Haryana Police in Ambala had heavily barricaded the national highway and there was heavy police deployment on the Haryana-Punjab border, police department sources said.

On his way to join the tractor rally, Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas B V said his party stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the farmers and dubbed the farm reforms as “anti-farmers”.

Black balloons were also released in the air by activists of the Punjab Youth Congress as a mark of protest against the farm bills.

Meanwhile, the Haryana government issued directions to ensure law and order, and minimise inconvenience to the people of the state during the protest from 12 noon to 3 pm on Sunday.

Executive magistrates have been directed to remain stationed along with their police counterparts at all such places where congregation of protestors is anticipated.

The Haryana Police was conducting patrolling of the national and state highways and important roads in various parts of the state, including Ambala, Kurukshetra, Sonipat, Jind, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar and Bhiwani.

Authorities said traffic will be diverted to alternative routes if the protest intensifies.

Days after their passage in the Lok Sabha, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha.

The bills are facing staunch opposition from farmer bodies as well as from within the ruling coalition.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the food processing minister from the Shiromani Akali Dal party, resigned from the government last week.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday had appealed for deferring the stir and invited the farmers for talks.

Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh said the Centre did not withdraw the three agriculture-related ordinances and presented them as bills during the ongoing session of Parliament, which have been passed in the Lok Sabha and have now been tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

On Saturday evening, he had said that the farmers would be holding a peaceful protest during which they would block the roads barring the GT road (national highway).

Earlier on September 10, the BKU along with some other farmer outfits held a protest in Kurukshetra's Pipli against the farm ordinances.

Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar had asserted that the farm reforms were in the interest of farmers and claimed opposition was misleading them.

He also reiterated that the 'mandi' system and minimum support price (MSP) mechanism were here to stay.