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Explained: Why is Punjab’s biggest farm union still in protest mode?

Punjab’s biggest farm union – BKU (Ugrahan) – is still protesting against both the Centre and the state governments. Why is is refusing to call off its protests?

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 5, 2022 10:15:05 am
Members of Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan protest in front of the mini secretariat office in Patiala on Tuesday. (Express Photo: Harmeet Sodhi)

While almost all farmer unions have ended their protests after the farm laws’ repeal, Punjab’s biggest farm union – BKU (Ugrahan) – is still protesting against both the Centre and the state governments. Why is the Ugrahan group, active in around 16 districts of the state, refusing to call off its protests.

Where is BKU (Ugrahan) protesting currently and why?

There are indefinite dharnas being staged by the union in 15 districts, including 12 deputy commissioners (DCs) offices and 4 SDM offices, since December 20. The union says that these dharnas are against both Centre as well as the states government for pushing farming into distress. Apart from this they said that they burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 649 villages across the state on Monday ahead of his January 5 rally in Ferozepur.

The farm outfit said that repealing of three farm laws by the Centre does not mean that farmers’ problems have been solved. On Monday, CM postponed a meeting with the group for the third time. The union claims that CM Charanjit Singh Channi is taking farmer issues in a casual manner.

What are their demands?

There are six major demands of the farmers, which the CM had assured to implement during the brief meeting held on December 23. These include compensation for damaged crop, compensation to families of deceased farmers who died during kisan andolan (farmers’ protest at Delhi border) and job to the kin of such farmers, compensation and job to one member of the families of farmers who committed suicide, demand of guaranteed purchase of all crops on MSP, withdrawal of criminal cases slapped on farmers and others while participating in kisan andolan which was accepted by government in writing but not implemented yet, and waiver of all kinds of government and non-government loans on farmers and farm workers.

What is the issues when government has already accepted most of their demands?

The union says that there were 234 criminal cases against farmers and government is claiming that all have been cancelled except three cases, but that is far from the truth. In Bathinda district alone, the union said, there were five pending cases, while data from other districts was expected to throw up more pending cases, said BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan.

About the compensation and government job to the kin’s of farmers who died during year-long protest at Delhi border, he said that around 600 farmers from Punjab had died, while Punjab government had so far given the list of only 407 farmers out of which it has given relief only to 157 farmers’ families.

“They are delaying the matter unnecessarily so that election code comes into force and everything comes to a standstill, but we will not leave them like this,” said Kokrikalan, adding that they have already prepared the list of left out farmers and will hand it over to the CM in the meeting whenever it is held.

About the complete loan waiver, they said that at the time of 2017 election, the Congress had given a slogan of ‘Karja, Kurki Khatam, Faisal Di Puri Rakam’ (debt and attachment of farmer’s land will go and farmers will get the full price of their crop). They added that after formation of government, Congress just waived off loan up to Rs 2 lakh and that too of small and marginal farmers. They want the government to deliver on its promise now without riders.

Over compensation on damaged cotton crop, BKU (Ugrahan) alleges that the government is limiting the crop damage relief to five-acre only.Also both states and Centre governments are not committed on the MSP to all the crops.

Why is the union protesting against PM’s visit?

BKU (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan alleged that the Narendra Modi government is not only conspiring to enact black laws again but is also giving away nation’s resources to corporates. He said that while Modi was going to hold out “false promises”, the real issues like MSP, PDS, fuel prices were being ignored.

BKU (Ugrahan) has prepared around one lakh leaflets to distribute across the state carrying the slogan of “Corporate Sewak, Modi Wapis Jao”.

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