Punjab CM also asks for amendments in relevant law to make 'vulnerable' farmers eligible to obtain free legal aid in country
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately initiate steps to repeal the three controversial farm laws, as well as to bring amendments in the relevant law to make farmers eligible to obtain free legal aid.
The Chief Minister, who called on the Prime Minister late on Wednesday evening, submitted two separate letters calling for the immediate review and revocation of the three contentious farm laws that have triggered widespread resentment among farmers of Punjab and other states, and have also led to a long-drawn protest at Delhi’s borders since November 26 last year, a government statement said.
Pointing to the prolonged agitation, which has so far cost the lives of more than 400 farmers and farmworkers, the Chief Minister said the stir had the potential of posing security threats for Punjab and the country, with Pakistan-backed anti-India forces looking to exploit the farmers’ disgruntlement against the government.
Urging the Prime Minister’s intervention for expeditious redressal of the farmers’ concerns by the Government of India, the Chief Minister said the continued agitation was not only impacting economic activities in Punjab, but also had the potential to affect the social fabric, especially when political parties and groups take strong positions.
Chief Minister Amarinder noted that he had earlier too, sought the Prime Minister’s appointment for a meeting with an All-Party delegation from Punjab. He further underlined the need to compensate farmers for the management of paddy straw at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal and also to address the fears of Diamonimum Phosphate (DAP) shortage, which could aggravate the farmers’ problems,a s well as the crisis triggered by the farm laws.
In one of the letters, the Chief Minister stressed that due to the fragmentation of landholdings, and persistent disputes with lessees and various market operators and agents, the farmers are also facing heightened litigation these days, causing stress on their meagre financial resources. Stressing on the need to reduce the financial burden of farmers as a result of such litigation, he noted that the Central Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, provides free legal aid to certain categories of people, who are perceived to be the vulnerable sections of the society. Pointing out that the country’s farmers are also very vulnerable, he said that they are, at times, compelled to die by suicide due to financial problems, even though they remain proud and prefer to till their land even at the cost of their lives.
“It is, thus, the need of the hour to amend Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to include farmers and farmworkers in the category of persons entitled to free legal services to pursue and defend themselves in the courts to secure their livelihood,” said Amarinder. He felt this step would help reduce cases of farmer suicides and ensure better protection of their legal and financial rights.
The Chief Minister also urged the Prime Minister to advise the concerned Central ministries dealing with farmer welfare and laws to carry out necessary amendments to the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, in the larger interest of farmers.
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