HUNDREDS OF farmers across Punjab started 24×7 sit-in protest in front of banks in as many as twelve districts Tuesday. The sit-in protest would continue for five days, said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), which has given the call for the protest.
Farmers protested in front of State Bank of India branches at Sangrur, Patiala, Barnala and Machhiwara (Ludhiana). In Bathinda, Muktsar, Jalalabad, Ferozepur and Faridkot, farmers sat in front of branches of Agricultural Development Bank whereas in Moga and Kala Aghana of Gurdaspur, their protest started in front of Punjab and Sind Bank. In Mansa, sit-in protest started in front of a branch of Cooperative Bank. The main demand of farmers include return of blank cheques taken by banks and arthiyas while giving them loans.
BKU Ugrahan activists, while addressing the protesting farmers, said both SAD-BJP and Congress took undue advantage of farmers during campaigning for polls and backtracked from their promises. They said that while Congress government announced complete loan waiver as a poll promise, now the banks and arthiyas are illegally taking blank cheques from farmers and blackmailing them if they fail to return the loan amount. Farmers said blank cheques taken from farmers by banks should be returned immediately or they can be misused.
Kokri Kalan who was leading protest in Moga, said banks were still approaching the police and getting farmers booked in case they fail to repay loans. “What kind of loan waiver is this by Captain Amarinder Singh that poor farmers are being booked and forced to give blank cheques. This will only increase farmer suicides as banks are also not refraining from auctioning the land of farmers,” he alleged. He said arrangements of langar, water and blankets were made in all districts.
Another demand is to increase compensation for families of farmer suicides to Rs 10 lakh and Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all fruits and vegetables to take out farmers from wheat-paddy cycle.