A day after its kisan march was cut short at the Chandigarh border, the Akali Dal on Friday said that it would lead more marches to Chandigarh and even take the agitation to Delhi. Senior Akali leader and former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra on Friday reiterated that Shiromani Akali Dal would approach regional political parties across the country to form a “national front” for carrying out protests against the three contentious farm legislations enacted by the Centre.
“We will hold meetings with farm organisations and regional political parties. Akali Dal would endeavour to create ‘Ik Manch, Ik Vichar’ (one platform, one viewpoint) for the interests of the peasantry,” Chandumajra told The Indian Express over phone.
“We can say from our experience that Punjab’s capital was snatched from us, Punjabi speaking areas were snatched from us and our waters were looted only because there was no common platform or a uniform viewpoint. Five decades ago, from the pious Anandpur Sahib, there was a demand for strengthening federalism and more autonomy to the states. That spark has now spread across the nation. And it is for the first time that all Punjab have come out to protest (against the Agriculture Acts)” said Chandumajra, who on Thursday led one of the three kisan marches taken out by SAD. Chandumajra led the march which started from Takht Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib. Chandumajra added, “The police lathicharge and unleashing water cannons on us by the Chandigarh police administration was undemocratic and brutal. It was a peaceful march.”
The veteran Akali leader said the agitation by SAD had “given a fillip to protests by farm organisations”.
Follow policy of consensus: Badal
Akali patriarch Parkash SIngh Badal on Friday asked Centre as well as of the state to “follow a policy of consensus and constructive conciliation rather than repressive confrontation on sensitive national issues. The country’s image must not be disfigured through intolerant governmental approach.”
About SAD’s kisan march, Badal said that the entire state was enthused by “the Panthic fervour in the Akali wave to support our beleaguered farmers. This was a great spectacle for those who cherish democratic Panthic traditions”.
He described as “shocking and utterly uncalled for” last night’s “repressive use of force by the police against Akali workers peacefully agitating for the farmers”.
Badal emphasised the need for respecting genuine cooperative federalism on the one hand and democratic dissent on the other.
“A healthy respect for our religious, linguistic, regional and political diversity is the cornerstone of our Constitution and only a democratic and federal approach can make us a global political, economic and moral leader of the new world,” said Badal.
Will lead protest to Delhi: Majithia
Condemning the “repression let loose by the police on Akali workers who had assembled peacefully on the outskirts of Chandigarh to protest against the injustice done to farmers”, Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia on Friday said SAD would “bring more protests to Chandigarh besides leading a protest to Delhi too”.
Addressing a press conference, former minister Majithia said: “It seemed the Congress government in Punjab and the Centre had played a fixed match yesterday with the intention of derailing the peaceful protests. If the centre feels it can silence us by conducting a brutal lathi charge against us which injured senior leaders and workers it has still not understood the deep sense of anguish of the farmers of Punjab whose virtual existence is in question. We will continue to agitate to protect the rights of farmers and will not be cowed down by such high-handness”.
Majithia added: “When he along with a group of other leaders courted arrest at Mullanpur and were being led to a bus, police personnel attacked them brutally without any provocation….Earlier in the melee senior leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra and Gulzar Singh Ranike were also injured. Similarly in the protest at Zirakpur, senior leader and MP Balwinder Singh Bhundur was manhandled by the police even as several party workers were injured due to police brutality both in Zirakpur and Mullanpur”.
Responding to a question on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s proposed visit to the state to protest against the agriculture Acts, Majithia said: “Before coming to Punjab, Rahul Gandhi should explain his questionable conduct which had facilitated easy passage of the three agricultural bills in Parliament. It was too much of a coincidence that Rahul and Congress president Sonia Gandhi left for the United States for a routine medical check-up one day before tabling of the agricultural bills in Parliament and returned back on the day they were passed. Rahul should also explain why he supported the abolition of the APMC Act and the mandikaran system in 2019.”
Stating that “Rahul was coming to Punjab only for a photo-op”, Majithia said: “CM Amarinder Singh was also playing a fixed match with the centre by refusing to take any concrete step to save the future of the farmers of Punjab.”
Majithia also condemned the CM for “trying to derail the peaceful protests by stating that the Pak ISI would infiltrate them as another ploy to divide and rule”.
He also said that “Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal had maintained a deafening silence since months and had refused to come out in favour of the farmers of Punjab who were protesting against the new agri laws. This speaks volumes about the AAP’s love for the farmers and khet mazdoor of Punjab”.
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