February 12, 2021 11:36:51 am
THOUGH SEVERAL ahrtiyas including the president of the Federation of Arhtiya Association had faced income tax search and survey operations, it has not deterred them from taking part in the farmers’ agitation. At Thursday’s ‘Mahapanchayat’ in Jagraon, the role of stage secretary was played by Amarjeet Singh Brar, who is senior vice-president of the Federation of Arhtiya Association, and president of the Moga Districts Association.
Brar was actively involved in calling all speakers to stage one by one, apart from announcing the donations being given by different panchayats. Brar, who hails from Baghapurana area of Moga, told The Indian Express said, ‘’Two buses came from Baghapurana’s arhtiya mandi only. Ahrtiyas came from across the state despite the fact that we had organised this mahapanchayat at a short notice of two days. Over 6,000 persons from different mandis of ahrtiyas were part of this mahapanchayat and they came from Pathankot, Jalandhar, Amritsar as well, apart from Ludhiana, Barnala, Moga and Patiala. Our accountants and other office staff also participated.”
Asked if they were reluctant to be part of the movement after income tax searches and survey operations, he said, “Not at all. Arhtiyas and staff working in mandis are going on a regular basis to Singhu and Tikri borders as well and each group is staying for a week before being replaced by the next group.”
Brar said he himself stayed at Singhu border for a month in one go when the morcha had started and now he is going in rotation. “We are united and are on the same front. Our demand is repeal of farm laws as it is going to affect the livelihood of farmers as well as commission agents. Hence, the government’s efforts to divide us have failed and we are on the same page even now,” he added.
He further said, “A few donations came on Thursday, which went to Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), collectively close to Rs 1 lakh given by various village panchayats.”
He added, “Our federation has supported farmers’ agitation from day one and we are with them. Apart from arhtiyas, their staff members, lakhs of labourers working for providing loading unloading services in mandis will also be unemployed if these laws are implemented. Palledar Mazdoor Union, which is engaged in loading, unloading work had also supported this mahapanchayat.”
There are nearly 28,000 registered arhtiyas in Punjab who are handling crops of more than 14 lakh farmers. Arhtiyas gets 2.5 per cent commission for facilitating transactions between farmers and the buyer.
Meanwhile at the mahapanchayat, Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “As per Punjabi University’s study, 65 per cent of Punjab’s farmers are under-matric while 75 per cent of farm labourers come in this category. Hence, they fear falling in the trap of contract agencies to do farming in Punjab. What will be the substitute employment for these lakhs of people if a failed model of the USA is implemented in India?”
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