AFTER PAYING tribute to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh on his 113th birth anniversary at his ancestral village Khatkar Kalan in Nawanshahr district on Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who also briefly sat on dharna at the spot against the three farm Bills, said Congress party will take the matter to Supreme Court.
Amarinder said he is fighting the battle of 75 per cent small farmers who own less than five acres, half of whom have less that 2.5 acres.
He was accompanied by PCC chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Affairs in-charge, former CM, AICC General Secretary Harish Rawat, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and other senior leaders of the party.
Amarinder said that the Centre had snatched everything from the states including the subject of agriculture.
“Now they are saying that farmers are agitating and political parties are supporting farmers. What should farmers do, should they distribute ladoos over such anti-farmer Bills? Will they not fight when you are snatching even ‘roti’ from those who have small landholdingd between 1 to 5 acres. If FCI will not purchase, how will the poor will get ration through Public Distribution System (PDS)? Will Adani or other big companies distribute it through PDS?” he asked, adding that when the country was in need, Punjab has grown the maximum food grain and filled its coffers.
Speaking to the media, he said that after breaking away from BJP, Akali Dal will be at a loss and will try several tactics, but those will not work.
He also announced Rs 50 lakh for the upkeep and maintenance of the memorial of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh at the village, and remembering the courage of Bhagat Singh and other martyrs during the Indian freedom struggle, exhorted the youth to emulate the high ideals of these revolutionaries. He recalled his visit to the cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where scores of revolutionaries lived through horrifying hardships in their fight to free India from the shackles of British imperialism.
Jakhar said that the farmers’ agitation is a long battle and that “we should be ready for any ‘balidaan’ (sacrifice)”. He said that the Centre will lift crop for one or two seasons and then drag their feet from it.
Harish Rawat asked Amarinder to take the responsibility of leading the agitation against the Bills, adding that everyone was looking to him to safeguard the interests of farmers.
Troubled days of militancy
While vowing to fight farm legislations constitutionally and legally, Amarinder, while speaking in Chandigarh, reminded the Centre of the troubled days of militancy in the state.
“Battle of satiating hunger is the biggest battle. Punjab has already seen dark days of terrorism. We do not want youth to take to arms once again,” he warned while addressing media here on Monday.
“Punjab has lost 35,000 lives to terrorism in senseless violence in the past and with the unrest among the farmers spreading to other states, the entire nation would be exposed to the ISI threat. The Pak-backed forces will try to feed on the angst in India,” he said.
Pointing out that 150 terrorists had been nabbed in Punjab in recent months with huge cache of arms and ammunition, the chief minister said he will not let anyone disturb the state’s peaceful atmosphere, which the new legislations had the potential to do.
Rawat announced a signature campaign beginning October 2 to collect 2 crore signatures of farmers against the Bills.
These will be submitted to the President on November 14 to coincide with Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary, he said, adding that Kisan Sammelans would also be organized to take the fight to its logical conclusion.
He also took a dig at the Akalis, saying they had remained silent for a long time and were now coming to take credit for the fight for farmers’ rights.
Amarinder said those sitting at the Centre “clearly knew nothing about agriculture, which explained their bid to destroy the time-tested farmer-Arhtiya relations”.
The chief minister stressed on the need for all to rise above politics to fight the Centre’s dangerous laws unitedly to protect Punjab and its people, especially the farmers. The fight at present was between the farmers and the central government, but the fact was that all powers of the states were being usurped by the Centre. “We have nothing left except excise from liquor sales, and all that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has to say is that it’s an act of God,” he quipped.
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