Seven farmer unions Saturday lifted the dharna they had started five days ago over the issue of cheque bounce cases.
They had been staging the dharna on Ludhina-Ferozepur road near Punjab National Bank branch since February 18.
The PNB heads the state level banking committee (SLBC) that had, on February 20, took a decision not to take any coercive action against farmers who have land upto 5 acres and outstanding loan upto Rs 10 lakh. The protesting farmers had been demanding that the criteria be expanded to include farmers having land upto 10 acres.
Jagmohan Singh, of Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda), said,”On our plea for relief to farmers having land upto 10 acres, the Punjab and Haryana High Court HC has fixed March 5 as next date of hearing. So, we have decided to lift the dharna as of now. The banks have agreed to give back the blank signed cheques of farmers. If they fail to do so by March 25, then we will launch an indefinite dharna in Chief Minister Capt Amarinder’s Singh’s home town Patiala from that day.”
The farmers had alleged that the banks, while extending them loans, has secured blank signed cheques from them. When the farmers failed to pay back the loan amount, they were booked in cheque bounce cases and sometimes jailed too, they had alleged. Punjab minister Sukhjinder Randhawa had taken up the issue with the banks and assured the farmers that all unutlised blank cheques will also be returned to the farmers. The farmers had launched their protest near Ayali village on February 18 and on two days – February 21 and 22 – they blocked the main Ludhiana- Ferozepur road for upto seven hours near PNB branch.
Jagmohan Singh claimed that in a way, “it is our victory” and thousands of farmers will be relieved.