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Friday, October 23, 2020

Opposition, farmers and other groups announce agri protests in Haryana; BJP launches damage control exercise

BKU’s leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, who is spearheading farmers’ ongoing agitation against the three farm laws in Haryana, on Saturday announced another protest rally at Sirsa on October 6.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: October 3, 2020 8:46:37 pm
Haryana farmers protest, opposition party protests, Haryana farm bill protest, Haryana farmers protest, Indian expressVarious farmer organisations and Opposition have decided to gherao senior BJP-JJP leaders' residences on October 5 and 6 across Haryana. (Express photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

Not only the Congress, but various political parties and farmers’ organisations have also announced protests against three farm laws across Haryana in the coming three days. The growing resentment has forced the ruling BJP into launching a damage control exercise. Various senior leaders, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and BJP state chief Om Prakash Dhankar, began back-to-back meetings with party workers, farmers, arhtiyas and rice miller associations. Various farmer organisations and Opposition have decided to gherao senior BJP-JJP leaders’ residences on October 5 and 6 across Haryana.

BKU’s leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, who is spearheading farmers’ ongoing agitation against the three farm laws in Haryana, on Saturday announced another protest rally at Sirsa on October 6. INLD’s Abhay Chautala had already invited various farmers’ organisations to join hands and hold a massive protest against the three farm laws and state government on October 6.

Swaraj India’s senior leader Yogendra Yadav has also announced a farmers’ protest at Shambhu Barrier, Ambala, on October 4. Yadav has also invited all the farmer organisations to join hands against the three farm laws calling it “RSS-BJP’s pro-corporate model”. “Farmers will sit outside Dushyant Chautala’s residence and then everybody will see how this ongoing agitation intensifies. All these Chautalas, Hoodas, Badals will fall in line if the farmers join hands and decide to ensure government procures crops on MSP,” Yogendra Yadav said.

He added, “Last week I was in Karnataka. All farmer organisations have joined hands. Farmer organisations are protesting across the country. It is not that the farmers are only protesting in Punjab or Haryana. Although epicentre of this protest is in Punjab, this fire is spreading fast across the country. Government will have to bow because farmer is king of this country. This may be a long struggle, but farmers will surely get justice.”

Yadav said, “All the farmers want is that government must give it in writing that their crop will be procured on MSP. Although right from Prime Minister to various state governments, all politicians of BJP are saying that crop procurement shall be on MSP. Then what stops them from giving it in writing? Once the government gives it in writing, all the farmers shall go back to their fields and end this ongoing protest.”

Yadav announced that on October 6, various farmer organisations will reach Sirsa and camp outside Dushyant Chautala’s residence.

Sensing growing resentment across the state, the BJP has scrambled its MLAs, MPs asking them to go to their constituencies and pacify the agitated stakeholders.

BJP’s MP from Sirsa, Sunita Duggal, who was shown black flags by a large number of agitated farmers at Sirsa, on Saturday held series of meetings with farmer associations and trader organisations at Sirsa in an attempt to make them aware of the benefits of the three farm laws. She also termed “opposition’s conspiracy” the ongoing protests and those to follow.

For the last three days, CM Khattar had been regularly holding meetings with the officials and stakeholders concerned and monitoring the procurement situation across Haryana.

Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Animal Husbandry Minister J P Dalal said, “Protecting interest of farmers has always been state government’s priority. Besides the Central government, Haryana government has also implemented several schemes to make agriculture and farmer sector self-reliant. As a result of declaring the minimum support price of crop every year before the sowing season, the area under crop cultivation has been steadily increasing in the country.” Dalal said this while presiding over a meeting of officials of power utilities to review status of pending agriculture tubewell connections.

“In the wake of the sowing season of rabi crops, directions were issued to officers to ensure a special programme and issue at least 200 connections each week and complete the entire backlog of pending applications by October 31.

Also, new transformers would be installed with immediate effect wherever needed,” Dalal said.

Dalal is currently touring various mandis across the state and holding meetings with the stakeholders. Besides Bhiwani, Dalal also visited Kosli and interacted with farmers, arhtiyas and market associations. “Government is ensuring that entire procurement of all the crops is done with utter transparency. All the suggestions submitted by farmers, arhtiyas, shopkeepers and millers have been taken into consideration and the procurement is going on smoothly,” Dalal said.

Talking about the ongoing procurement’s status in the state, Haryana’s ACS (food and supplies department) P K Das said, “Procurement has begun. Chief Minister has held a meeting through video conference with all the Deputy Commissioners of the districts where procurement is going on. Rice millers’ association has not yet begun their operations due to certain demands. Arhtiyas have also not started operations due to certain pending demands. Both the groups had met Chief Minister individually and submitted their concerns. All their legitimate demands were met and clarifications that were sought by them were also given. On the night of October 1, rice millers’ association and arhtiyas had decided to start their operations. There was a common demand that, like previous years, millers should be allowed to take care of the transportation of paddy from mandis to the mills. But considering the irregularities detected in this operation in previous years, government decided that it will take care of the transportation of paddy from mandis to mills by government-approved contractors. Certain apprehensions were raised that it may cause delays. But to ensure that transportation is done within 24 hours, I held a preparatory meeting with the officials and transport contractors concerned. Detailed guidelines were issued and government’s priorities were explained.”

Regarding delayed procurement, Das said, “Certain farmers from other states have come with their produce. But they would also have to first register themselves on Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal. From Sunday, they can register themselves. Moisture content is also an issue. Yet, we are doing procurement in major mandis. Since Friday, paddy has started being lifted form mandis.”

Regarding payment to the farmers for their produce, Das added, “Government has decided that within three days of I-form approval, payment shall be made for the MSP. We shall procure four crops this time, paddy, bajra, moong and maize. Bajra, moong and maize payments will go straight to farmers’ account. In case of paddy, where farmers want that they should be paid through arhtiyas, it will be done accordingly. For the rest of the farmers, the payment will be directly made to them in their bank accounts.”

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