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Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘Punjab MPs supporting farm bills to be barred from villages’

The protesting farmers squatted on national and state highways and blocked the roads with tractors at several places against the three bills calling them “anti-farmer”.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
September 16, 2020 12:30:22 pm
farm bills, farm ordinances, Punjab farmers protests, farmers mandi protests, APMC farmers protest, Haryana farmers protest, Farmers protest, agrarian crisis, APMC ordinance, Punjab farmers protest, Haryana farmers protest, Indian ExpressDuring the farmers’ protest against Centre's farm ordinances, near Neelon bridge in Ludhiana on Tuesday. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Any Punjab MP who supports the farm bills in Parliament will not be allowed to enter the villages, the agitating farmers Tuesday warned as they blocked roads at many places and launched a six-day ‘Pakka Morcha’ outside the residence of former CM Parkash Singh Badal at his native village Badal in Muktsar district and at PUDA ground in Chief Minister Capt Amarinder’s Singh’s home district Patiala.

The protesting farmers squatted on national and state highways and blocked the roads with tractors at several places against the three bills calling them “anti-farmer”.

The Centre on Monday had introduced three farm bills in Lok Sabha – The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. One of them — the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 — was taken up for a discussion on Tuesday and passed by a voice vote.

Intensifying their agitation, the farmers said they were forced to take to streets because of the apathetic attitude of the central government over their demand for the withdrawal of the bills.

“MPs who support these farm bills in parliament will not be allowed to enter villages,” warned Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal.

Calling the bills “worse than coronavirus”, he said they would negatively affect farmers, arthiyas (commission agents) and farm labourers, if implemented.

He said his outfit, along with 11 other farmers’ organisations blocked roads, mainly national highways, at 25 places in the state.

The BKU faction’s president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said,”We (all farm unions) are united on this front, irrespective of the party affiliations.”

Ajmer Lakhowal had remained chairman of Punjab Mandi Board during Akali regime and is considered as a leader with a pro-Akali stand. “Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal need to present their stand in Parliament. Many Akali MLAs are calling us to extend their support. These are the same leaders who earlier told us that we were not having a clearer picture (of the three ordinances). Now, they need to present their clear picture or they will be banned from entering villages,”said Ajmer Lakhowal who was present during chakka jam at Talwandi Bhai near Ferozepur where thousands of farmers blocked GT road from noon to 2 pm.

“Now 200 Punjab farmers will be reaching Delhi to protest outside the Parliament on Wednesday,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Moga, a few of the agitating farmers wore black robes while some of them tied a noose around their necks.

Pakka Morcha at Badal village and in Patiala

Farmers under the banner of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) started pakka morcha in village Badal in Muktsar and in Patiala.

“We have brought dry ration, masks and sanitiser. We will hold the day-night dharna till September 20. Hundreds of farmers, including women, have marched to Badal village. The SAD can no longer fool us in the name of panth or religion. If Akali Dal is a party of kisans, they need to prove the same in Parliament,” said Ram Singh Bhainibagha, president of BKU(Ugrahan)’s Mansa unit.

Outfit’s state president Joginder Singh Ugrahan questioned the ruling Congress in Punjab on the course of action it has planned as Opposition party in Parliament.

“Farmers are out on roads in large numbers. If coronavirus is a threat, is it justified to choose this time to table these ordinances in Parliament. NDA needs to explain this. They are killing farmers and are threatening to gag our voices in the name of pandemic,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan)

Meanwhile, farmers blocked National Highway-1 for two hours between Phagwara-Hoshiarpur sugar mill crossing and Phagwara-Nakodar road crossing. As a result, traffic between Jalandhar-Phagwara-Ludhiana, Phagwara-Nakodar and Phagwara-Nawanshahr-Chandigarh was blocked, causing inconvenience to commuters.

Farmers also held a rally at a lock grain market in Phagwara. Led by BKU (Doaba) president Manjit Singh Rai, farmers raised slogans against the government and demanded the withdrawal of the bills. The protest was also joined by commission agents and mandi workers.

In Hoshiarpur, farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee staged a protest dharna and blocked vehicular traffic at Bhangla on Jalandhar-Pathankot G T Road.

Meanwhile, Tanda Police on Tuesday registered a case against members of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee for blocking the road at Beas river bridge, village Rara, on Tanda-Sri Hargobindpur road.

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