Farmers stage protest, clash with cops at Kisan mela in Bathindahttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ludhiana/farmers-stage-protest-clash-with-cops-at-kisan-mela-in-bathinda-5389053/

Farmers stage protest, clash with cops at Kisan mela in Bathinda

Seven farmer unions, in the last week of September, had announced that they will burn stubble this year too, as subsidy for machines would only help rich farmers

Policemen try to pacify protesting farmers during the Kisan Mela at Rampura Phull in Bathinda. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

FARMERS UNDER the banner of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), Dakaunda, staged a protest against the awareness drive of agriculture department to stop stubble burning at Kisan Mela organised at Rampura Phull in Bathinda district.

Baldev Singh, President of Bathinda unit of BKU said, “We went to the mela to let ourselves be heard, but instead the police pushed us and even took our turbans off. Now that they have insulted us, we announce that all members of our union will burn stubble, make videos of the same and send them to CM Capt Amarinder Singh’s social media account.”

Baldev’s turban was taken off in the scuffle with police at the awareness mela to stop stubble burning and instead buy machines on subsidy to help plough back the stubble. He was trying to reach the stage, but he along with his supporters were stopped by police in the midway and forcibly turned away from the venue. They raised slogans against Congress Government, agriculture department and even Punjab police.

The whole incident happened Friday in front of power minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar.

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On Thursday, farmers of the same union had hijacked the stage at Muktsar’s dana mandi and instead of agriculture department to give speeches, farmers took over half an hour to give speeches in front of officers and Congress leaders. Later they left the venue and along with them half of the pandal had also gone empty.

Seven farmer unions, in the last week of September, had announced that they will burn stubble this year too, as subsidy for machines would only help rich farmers. Cases of stubble burning have already been reporting sporadically in few parts of the state. On Thursday, Sukhdev Singh, president of this union from Muktsar had said, “When smoke of farmers’ suicide does not reach Delhi, so smoke of paddy stubble burning will also not reach Delhi. None of the farmer will use combines with SMS, all old machines will be used. Let us see as what action government will take on us. We will burn the stubble like we did previously.”

Nirmal Singh, General Secretary of Muktsar’s union of BKU Sidhupur said, “Congress leaders had got Swaminathan report prepared but never implemented it. Later BJP made this report an election issue, but everyone has seen what BJP did to farmers on October 2 when Kisan March was coming towards Delhi.”

He added, “Agriculture department is responsible for our woes, our forefathers never used pesticides or fertlisers. They are the ones who introduced us to all these things in name of green revolution. They first added poison to our fields and are now talking of reforms.”

Sukhdev Singh said,” Three years back, court had ordered to give Rs 3,000 per acre to farmers for managing stubble in fields. Agriculture department needs to tell as to how many farmers have received this money. Regarding the National Green Tribunal, are they not able to see industrial pollution? Why do they only see us? Everyday, near my village (Kotli) brick kilns spread fumes in air and DC never takes any action against them.”

Both Sukhdev and Baldev warned the villagers present to not use any other method for ploughing back stubble in fields.

“Stubble will burn as it has been burnt previously. Government has deployed 8000 employees to take action on us, but there are 12,000 villages in Punjab. They will not come to the villages where union is strong, so more and more people should join us.”

It needs to be mentioned that Union as well as Punjab government is busy with extensive program on awareness drive on which Rs 15 crore has being spent and even 395 crore has come as subsidy for machines to be used to plough back stubble. Amid all this drive, protest by farmers has come as a question mark. Farmers in Gidderbaha villages have also announced not to adhere to government instructions.