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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Punjab BJP forms 8-member panel to start talks with protesting farmer unions

The panel was formed a day after farmers began staging indefinite dharnas outside the houses of 6 BJP leaders in Punjab.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | October 3, 2020 10:04:06 am
Punjab Farmers, Rail Roko, Punjab Farmers Protests, Farm Bills 2020Members of various farmer organizations block railway tracks during a protest against the central government over the farm reform bills, at Dhablan village in Patiala. (PTI Photo)

A day after farmers started indefinite dharnas outside the houses of 6 BJP leaders in Punjab, party’s 8 member panel headed by former Cabinet minister Surjit Kumar Jayani has started trying to initiate talks with farmers. The committee for talks was formed three days ago and it includes BJP Kisan Morcha chief Bikramjeet Singh Cheema, former national executive committee member of the Kisan Morcha, Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, and Kisan Morcha leaders Satwant Singh Punia, and Harjit Singh Grewal.

Talking to The Indian Express, Cheema said: “A dharna is being staged outside my house in Payal village in Ludhiana since October 1. We had tried to talk to farmers when the ordinances were tabled before the Union Cabinet in June. However, none of them came on board. We are again trying to contact them and are ready to arrange their meeting with the Union Agriculture Minister.”

Cheema said, “We are personally approaching Union leaders of all 31 farmer organisations who have organised the dharna, so as to listen to them and arrange their meeting. Solutions emerge when we talk. We are ready to sort out the issues of farmers. They are our own, I have said this repeatedly.”

Asked whether he tried talking to farmers sitting outside his house, Cheema said: “They are in anger and are not ready to listen to anything as of now. I can understand their grievances. Hence, we are approaching their union leaders. The eight-member committee will be talking to their union members.”

Satwant Punia, who is one of the members of the committee, is also facing an indefinite dharna outside his house in Sangrur.

On Friday, farmers also staged a pakka morcha outside the house of BJP MLA Arun Narang in Abohar. Narang lives in a narrow lane on Gaushala road and farmers from BKU(Ugrahan) group have blocked the entire lane.

Narang said,” There are only four houses in this lane and they have blocked it completely. I and my relatives live in this lane. There are small kids, elderly people living in houses who are disturbed by loudspeakers throughout the day. I have told them that they can come and talk to me and I can arrange their meeting with higher authorities, but farmers are not ready to listen. I hope that our committee will soon resolve the issue.”

Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakonda) said, “We know that many BJP leaders had no role in framing the acts, but they are part and parcel of the government. They are not even supporting farmers, ahrtiyas, labourers of this state. So, we are very angry with them. This is a pressure building tactic to force them to hear our voices. ”

Congress leader gheraoed

In Barnala, Harchand Kaur Ghanauri, Congress’s constituency incharge, was gheraoed in village Raisar. Slogans were raised against her. Later, she promised to take up the matter with CM Amarinder Singh to pass resolution against farm laws in Vidhan Sabha, said Dr Darshan Pal from Kirti Kisan Union. Punjab Cabinet Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar was supposed to inaugurate a sports stadium in village, but due to this incident he went back from Barnala and inauguration function was postponed.

‘Rail roko’ intensifies

On October 2, rail roko dharnas increased to 32 from 30 on October 1. Pakka dharnas were staged at 8 toll plazas, 3 malls of corporate houses and 19 privately owned petrol pumps. At Khanna, farmer Kanwaljeet Khanna and his team got a store of a corporate house chain closed after protesting at the spot.

“At all the dharna spots, we condemned the brutal rape and murder incident of Hathras and we also demanded justice for the victim and her family,” said Manjeet Dhaner, leader of BKU (Dakonda)

Posters at protest sites, villages

Across villages in Punjab and at protest sites, hundreds of posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have come up along with those depicting Uncle Sam, and corporate houses. Most of them carry slogans against PM Narendra Modi and corporate houses. “Villagers are really angry…so every morning from 10 am-11 am, they beat these flex-sheet posters with chappals,” said Shingara Singh Maan, President of BKU (Ugrahan), Bathinda unit.

BJP protest in Ludhiana

A day after an alleged attack by Youth Congress leaders at BJP’s Ludhiana office, BJP workers and district President Pushpinder Singal staged a dharna outside Congress office on Friday. They blackened a poster of CM Amarinder Singh as a mark of protest. A scuffle also took place with cops, as BJP workers marched towards Congress office.

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