Farmers refuse to ease rail blockade, announce kisan marches across Punjab on Oct 17

During their own meeting to discuss the way forward, farm outfits decided to protest outside not only the BJP leaders but also Union Ministers’ residences and announced to hit the streets on October 17, with marches across the state.

A day after their talks with Centre failed, agitating farmer outfits in Punjab held a marathon meeting in Chandigarh, and later announced a continuation of their protest against the farm laws, including the indefinite rail blockade. The announcement also followed an interaction Thursday with 3-member panel of Punjab Cabinet ministers — Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria — and Chief Minister’s political secretary Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu, on easing the rail roko protest, which too failed to break the deadlock.

The ministers were unable to convince farmers to relent and lift the railway blockades to ensure supply of commodities. The farmers’ meeting started at 12 noon, and the ministers’ panel later joined them for separate talks over rail roko at around 3 pm.

The only sign of thaw was farmers withdrawing their threat of gheraoing residences of Congress leaders after the ministers told them that a law will be brought in the special session of Punjab Assembly to negate the impact of Centre’s farm laws.

Kisan marches across Punjab on Oct 17

During their own meeting to discuss the way forward, farm outfits decided to protest outside not only the BJP leaders but also Union Ministers’ residences and announced to hit the streets on October 17, with marches across the state.

Farm organisations have also decided to burn effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The organisations have now called their next meeting on October 20 in Chandigarh to plan the next course of action.

Farmer leaders Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal and Nirbhai Singh Dhuddike told the media after the meeting that they would not talk to Centre now and would gherao the national capital on November 27-28. They said if Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore would not give his assent to the legislation passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha, they would gherao the Governor’s official residence as well.

The farmer leaders said they condemned the attitude of Centre over the way they “misbehaved” with farmers. They also said the state BJP chief was not attacked by farmers and it was wrong to point a finger a them.

“But the BJP leaders are using a provocative language against the farmers. They should desist from doing so. We are for the peaceful agitation and have already asked our activists to exercise restraint,” the farmers leaders said.

Promising unity, Dr Darshan Pal said BKU (Ugrahan), the key Malwa farm outfit, was with them and they were all following the programme of the Joint Sangharsh Committee.

Our law will stand SC scrutiny: Randhawa

It is learnt that the ministers told the farmers in the meeting that the train blockades were creating problems for the state including delaying supply of coal, fertilisers and even transport of basmati. It was in their interest also to lift the dharnas from railway tracks. But the farmers did not relent.

Talking the The Indian Express, Randhawa later said he also told the farmers that the state government was bringing such a strong legislation in favour of the farmers that will stand the scrutiny of even the Supreme Court. Refusing to divulge any other details, Randhawa said the farmers leaders told the ministers that they wanted a briefing on the legislation being brought in by the state and a meeting to this effect was being convened.

On whether the government was preparing to declare the entire state as Principal Mandi Yard, Randhawa said it was too early to say anything. “But it is more of a case of MSP being withdrawn. If we do not allow the private traders to set up mandis, how will we ensure MSP to farmers. The state government is not in a position to pay an MSP of Rs 60,000 crore annually. Our Advocate General Atul Nanda is working on finding a way,” he said.

On the ministers failing to get the farmers to lift the rail blockade, Randhawa said, “They are upset with Centre after yesterday’s meeting. But I am with the farmers if they are not lifting the rail-roko. What will the farmers do with fertilisers if their produce will not be lifted. Their protests are justified. We have spoiled our soil after using pesticides to increase the production and help the country fulfilled its need for grains. It is our border state only that has fought with Pakistan. We have lived through those wars. Still, the Centre is out to finish Punjab. Just read the farm laws. You will know how the Centre is slowly moving towards withdrawing MSP.”

He added, “Farming is the backbone of Punjab. We only produce grains. We are clear that we are with the farmers. Our being is only with the farmers. It is not only about the farmers but about the whole state.”

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App.

Source: Read Full Article