May 23, 2022 10:20:23 am
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who was one of three chief ministers who gathered in Chandigarh on Sunday to pay tribute to those who died during the protest against the three now-repealed farm laws, said farmers have the power to change governments, and urged them to continue their agitation until they get the “right price” for their produce.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann were also at the event at which Rao, on behalf of the Telangana government, handed out cheques of Rs 3 lakh to each of the families of the 712 farmers who lost their lives during the agitation against the farm laws. He also distributed Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the four soldiers from Punjab who died during clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June, 2020.
Speaking at the event, Rao hailed farmers for the way they carried out their agitation.
“The way you launched the agitation and continued the fight till the end, and forced the Centre to withdraw the farm laws — I bow to those farmers and their leaders. We cannot bring back those who were martyred. But we can say that the entire country empathises with you.”
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Urging farmers to continue the agitation, he said: “The farmers from the north, east, west and south should get together and fight for our rights. We grow food for the country. We should get justice. Agar kisan chahe toh satta palat sakta hai. Koi badi baat nahi. (If farmers want, they can overthrow the government of the day. It is no big deal)… The agitation should continue till the farmers get the right price for their produce and a constitutional guarantee to it. We should vote for only those parties who give these guarantees… Governments from across the country who love farmers will get together and when you start your agitation, we will be with you. Kejriwal ji is fortunate that this (the protest against the farm laws) was happening at his (Delhi) border. He served the agitation. He tried to save the farmers. Now, we all will get associated with the agitation and fight till the Centre agrees to our demands. I urge the farmers to come forward.”
Kejriwal, who was on his first visit to Chandigarh since Mann’s swearing in as Punjab Chief Minister, said the AAP government in the state would make a farmers’ model in Punjab that would later be replicated across the country.
“That Chandrashekhar ji is here shows that the entire country is with you,” Kejriwal said, addressing farmers. Regarding the protests at the Delhi border, he said, “It was not the andolan (movement) of a section of society, but the entire nation. It happened at the Delhi border. It was like a yajna (ritual) in which I also made an offering. Whatever we could do, we did. I remember when the farmers from Punjab and Haryana had started and were on their way, we got a file from the Centre that farmers are moving towards Delhi, and to arrest all of them, we would have had to convert Delhi’s stadia into jails… But we refused the Centre, and said we would not clear this file… We stood with the farmers, we helped them in setting up toilets and providing water.”
Earlier, Mann set the tone of the function, hailing the farmers for ensuring that the farm laws were repealed.
In an emotional address, he said, “When I used to raise the issue of suicide of Punjab farmers, then MPs of other states would surround me and ask me if farmers of a prosperous state like Punjab were also committing suicide. I told them that Punjab is no more the state it used to be — a happy state where the Punjabis danced to the tunes of bhangra. Successive governments had brought it to this situation. But we will restore its glory.”
The event, organised by the Punjab government at Tagore theatre in Chandigarh, was also attended by farmer leader Rakesh Tikait.
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