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Friday, March 05, 2021

Walkout, Boycott, and a Resolution: All-party meet calls for withdrawal of farm laws, probe into ‘sponsored’ R-Day violence

Accusing miscreants of seeking to sabotage the “historic and unparalleled” farmer agitation through untoward incidents at the Red Fort on the Republic Day, the resolution said these acts “are truly condemnable and need to be probed thoroughly”.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: February 3, 2021 8:16:25 am
Farmers Protests, Farm laws 2020, Farm bills 2020, Farmers agitation, Republic day tractor rally, Republic day violence, Farm unions, farm laws withdrawal, Chandigarh news, Indian ExpressSAD’s Prem Singh Chandumajra and Daljit Singh Cheema come out from Punjab Bhawan, in Chandigarh. (Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi)

While holding the Union government responsible for “substantial delay” in resolving the farmers’ crisis, an all-party meeting called by Punjab CM Amarinder Singh Tuesday sought immediate withdrawal of the controversial farm laws. In a resolution passed at the end of the meeting, the parties said that they will take a delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look for a way forward.

The meeting, which was boycotted by BJP and attended by Congress, AAP, SAD, Lok Insaaf Party, SAD Democratic Party, BSP, CPI, CPI (M) and AAP, termed the Republic Day violence during farmers’ tractor parade as “sponsored”. The parties demanded a judicial probe into the “laxity and complicity” of those responsible for maintaining peace at the Red Fort.

Accusing miscreants of seeking to sabotage the “historic and unparalleled” farmer agitation through untoward incidents at the Red Fort on the Republic Day, the resolution said these acts “are truly condemnable and need to be probed thoroughly”. These incidents, however, should not be made a pretext to victimize agitating farmers, farmworkers and others, including the media persons, the resolution said.

The resolution lauded UP farmer leader Rakesh Tikait for his contribution to the struggle, and also thanked Haryana farmers for their support to Punjab’s farmers in the agitation.

While the BJP did not attend the meeting, the Aam Aadmi Party staged a walkout at the fag end of the meeting on the issue of demand of deployment of Punjab Police for protection of agitating farmers on Delhi borders. The demand was rejected as the CM as unconstitutional.
But prior to that, all parties appreciated the position taken by the farmers’ unions in the resolution.

The resolution called upon the Centre “to take steps to ensure that the farmers and farm workers participating in the agitation are not victimised in any manner”.

Through the resolution, the Punjab parties urged the central government “to withdraw all cases registered against the farmers, farmworkers, and journalists, and other peaceful agitators, and release all those detained by the police or any other agencies.” The missing agitators should also be traced and restored to their respective families without any delay, they said.

The parties sought immediate resolution of the current crisis by the Union government “through dialogue in keeping with the principles of cooperative federalism, respecting the constitutional role of the states and the people as enshrined in the Constitution.”

The resolution also called upon the Centre “to make the Minimum Support Price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers, and continue with the procurement of foodgrains by the Centre through FCI and other such agencies as at present,” adding that “the procurement by arthiyas may also continue as earlier.”

Noting that, as a result of the undue delay by the central government in resolving the crisis, “not only the peaceful agitators and their families are suffering but several farmers and farmworkers have lost their lives causing irreparable damage to them and anguish amongst the people of the country,” the resolution demanded withdrawal of the new Environment Protection (Amendment) Act, 2020, while urging the Centre to drop the proposal to enact the proposed new Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020.

CM rejects AAP’S demand

As AAP leaders brought up the issue of deployment of Punjab Police at Delhi border dharna sites towards the end of the meeting, Amarider, according to a state government statement, said: “We talk about more federal powers for the states, then how can we do this? What will you do if Himachal Pradesh and Haryana police come to Punjab.”

Amarinder told the AAP leaders: “Your (AAP) chief minister in Delhi can request the Union Home Minister to provide security there. We can’t do it as it is not possible constitutionally.” After this, AAP leaders walked out of the meeting.

Bills to negate farm laws again

During the course of the meeting, the CM announced that his government will bring the State Amendment Bills to negate the draconian Farm Laws again in the Vidhan Sabha since the Governor had failed to send the earlier Bills to the President.

“We will bring the Bills again as the Constitution provides that if Bills are passed twice by the Vidhan Sabha they have to be sent by the Governor to the President,” he said.

Pointing out that the President had refused to meet Punjab leaders following the passage of the Bills in the Vidhan Sabha on the ground that he had not received the Bills, the Chief Minister told the all-party meeting that he will seek time again from the President. He said he was also constantly in touch with the Union Home Minister on the issue of the farm laws and the farmer protests.

Underlining the need for early resolution of the crisis, the Chief Minister warned that the threat from Pakistan could not be undermined. His focus on security threats stemmed from his awareness of the grave challenges to Punjab, he added. “We have to work to resolve this issue before things go out of hand,” he said, adding that he knew how many drones, arms and ammunition were being smuggled into the state from across the border.

Recalling how, soon after prolonged 2-month negotiations on an earlier Punjab crisis, relating to a list of some 42 demands, Operation Bluestar happened, the Chief Minister warned that “If anger builds here, it will be exploited.”

Complete Unanimity

A government statement after the meeting said a rare and complete unanimity prevailed at the all-party meeting. The meeting saw a host of suggestions come from participants of all parties, ranging from an independent probe into the Red Fort violence, joint meeting with the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister seeking their intervention for the resolution of the crisis, the appointment of a state observer at Delhi borders, and joining the farmers at the protest site without making a political statement, among others.

The meeting started with a 2-minute silence in remembrance of those who had died during the agitation so far. As of date, 88 farmers from Punjab had reportedly lost their lives in these protests, said the Chief Minister.

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