July 17, 2021 12:07:24 am
Citing the “heightened cross-border threat” and “increased drone and other terrorist activities by ISI-backed groups, including plans by Khalistani outfits to target certain Kisan leaders,” Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately resume dialogue with the farmers agitating against the central agri laws.
Amarinder also proposed to lead “an all-party delegation from Punjab for a discussion with the prime minister to find a durable and amicable solution to the farmers’ protests” which, he said, are “threatening the state’s social fabric and impacting economic activities as well”.
The Punjab CM’s letter to PM comes amid attempts by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to get regional parties to back it in demanding repeal of the contentious farm laws in the Parliament during the monsoon session beginning Monday. SAD claims to have got Shiv Sena, NCP, DMK, TMC and BSP on board to back the move even as it is reaching out to the Left parties.
Meanwhile, Amarinder warned the PM that powers across the border “may try to play upon the charged emotions of our proud, sincere, and hardworking farmers” of Punjab.
“The situation is presently under control but I fear that provocative statements, conduct of some political parties and the emotional backlash might create law and order problems and also lead to irreversible damage to the hard-earned peace in the state,” Amarinder said while underscoring the need for the Union government to address “farmers’ genuine concerns”.
An official spokesperson said the Punjab CM pointed to “rising resentment” in state on account of the farm laws, which, he said he had asked to be reviewed in his two letters written in 2020. In the letter, Amarinder also noted an increase in drone activity in villages falling within 5-6 km of Indo-Pak border earlier, with “consignments of weapons and heroin being delivered into India by Pakistan”.
“Intelligence reports also suggest that with the Assembly elections in Punjab just a few months away, “ISI-led Khalistani and Kashmiri terror outfits are planning terrorist action in the state in the near future”, the spokesperson said.
In his letter, Amarinder pointed out that farmers have been protesting for the past seven months on Delhi-Haryana borders, and also in the state, demanding repeal of these laws, and their protests have been more or less peaceful. “It is a little unfortunate that the multiple rounds of engagement between the Union ministers and representatives of farmers’ groups have not proved successful,” he said.
“Besides the threat to the state’s socio-economic fabric due to the unrest caused by the farm laws, the day-to-day political activities in line with people’s democratic rights are also adversely affected due to the agitation, though the state government has tried its best to maintain law and order,” he said.
“It has been over seven months since the farmers’ agitation began against the farm laws, which they claim will do away with the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations,” he added..
Highlighting other issues and concerns of farmers which “warranted immediate attention”, Amarinder referred to his letter written to Modi on September 28 last year through which he sought to “compensate the farmers for the additional cost of managing crop residues at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy, apart from MSP as residue burning always remains a no-cost option for them”.
Noting that “this is extremely important to prevent stubble burning in view of anticipated third wave of Covid-19, and its adverse impact on the health of people especially in this region of the country”, the CM said the farmers also needed to be categorically reassured about their concerns regarding the provisioning of MSP and continued public procurement of wheat and paddy.
“Further, their immediate fears about the hike in prices of fertilizers especially phosphatic fertilizers after October 31, 2021 also required to be addressed, as nearly 60% of DAP consumed in the state would be during November and December for the sowing of wheat,” he added.
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