January 23, 2021 4:01:04 am
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Friday announced job for a member of the family of each farmer from the state who died during the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s new farm laws. The announcement came soon after the state Cabinet passed a resolution “stressing that all the genuine demands of the farmers must be accepted”.
Asserting that it will take all measures to protect the state’s and its farmers’ interests, the Cabinet, in a virtual meeting chaired by Amarinder, made it clear that “nothing short of repeal of the Centre’s black farm laws, which are anti-farmer, anti-nation and anti-food security, would resolve the present crisis”.
“The central government is out of touch with the ground realities,” an official statement quoting Amarinder said.
It said that the Council of Minister declared unequivocally that “repeal of the farm laws was the only way out of the current imbroglio”. The Cabinet demanded that “the Centre make minimum support price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers”, as per the statement.
Pointing out that even the Supreme Court has acknowledged the concerns of the protesting farmers and recognised their pain and anguish, the state Cabinet said Centre should not make it a matter of prestige and ego as the matter, if unresolved, could lead to devastating repercussions for the country for decades to come. If the Centre can offer to make sweeping amendments to the laws then this adamancy about not revoking the legislations is inexplicable, the statement read.
Later, in a formal resolution, the Cabinet reiterated its commitment to the resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly on August 28 and October 20 last year, “stressing that all the genuine demands of the farmers must be accepted”.
“There is need for broad-based dialogue and proper consultation with all stakeholders as these legislations impact the future of millions of farmers across the country, and all genuine demands of the farmers must be accepted,” read the resolution.
Later in the day, Amarinder, during the 20th edition of his Facebook Live #AskCaptain session, said that in addition to the Rs 5 lakh compensation being given to the families of the dead farmers, his government will also give job to a member of their family.
“All Punjabis are concerned about our farmers sitting on the Delhi borders. They are there to persuade the Centre to repeal that laws that were implemented without taking us into confidence. Lots of old people are sitting there at the (Delhi) borders not for themselves but for the future of their children and grandchildren,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that “we are losing our farmers to the cold every day, with an estimated 76 farmers dying so far”.
Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been camping at Delhi’s borders for several weeks, demanding the repeal of the farm laws and a legal guarantee on the MSP for crops.
Asking why the Centre was hesitating in repealing the laws, Amarinder said that the entire country is paying the price for the Union government “pushing the laws through Parliament with brute majority, without any discussion”.
“Is there a Constitution in the country? Agriculture is a state subject under Schedule 7, so why has the Centre interfered with a state subject,” he asked.
On the National Investigation Agency notices to some farmers and supporters of the agitation, the Punjab CM said it was a “wrong step” and he would be writing soon to the Union home minister over it. Even the Khalsa Aid, a humanitarian NGO which is working across the globe, has not been spared, said the CM.
“If you talk to Punjabis nicely and persuade them, they will agree to your suggestions, but if you pick up a stick, they too will pick one,” he said.
The CM agreed with a Tarn Taran resident that the Centre was being “arrogant” and was not thinking about the impact of the farm laws on the farmers.
Stressing that representatives of almost all farm unions from across the country are sitting at the Delhi borders, the chief minister said the agitation was of the entire nation’s farmers and not just those from Punjab.
He recalled that farmers had been getting the minimum support price since 1966, with the Congress first introducing it, and nobody had any doubts about its continuation till now because of these farm laws which were aimed at “ending” the MSP and mandi systems. “And if that happens, the foodgrain currently procured by the Centre for use in PDS distribution will also end. Who will then give food to the poor,” he asked.
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