The Congress on Tuesday held a massive protest dharna and blocked traffic in support of farmers at Ghuman, following expiry of the 48-hour ultimatum given to the SAD-BJP government to lift paddy stocks from mandis and ensure payment of minimum support price (MSP) for paddy.
The demonstrators led by senior Congress leader Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa blocked traffic for nearly five hours.
To avert any untoward incident, the district administration deployed police personnel in large numbers in and around Ghoman.
Traffic was also diverted to alternative routes to avoid inconvenience to the commuters.
The farmers raised slogans against local Akali Dal MLA Des Raj Dhugga and the SAD-BJP government.
Addressing the protesters, Bajwa said, “The exploitation of farmers has been continuing despite assurances by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. The farmers are not getting MSP for their produce and have to wait before their stocks are cleared.”
He said the commission agents and private buyers were fleecing the farmers in alleged connivance with the state government agencies.
He said if Badal could not stop the ‘exploitation’ of poor farmers, he should step down from his post.
Bajwa further said Badal had no right to comment on the MSP on paddy announced by the UPA government. He asked the chief minister to announce Rs. 100 per quintal bonus on paddy.
“During the first and second regime of the UPA government, the MSP of paddy was raised by Rs. 800 per quintal against Rs. 150 raised by the NDA from 1999 to 2004,” he said.
Bajwa said the SAD-BJP government had been instrumental in promoting ‘paddy mafia.’
The senior leader called upon farmers to unite against the high-handedness of the SAD-BJP government.
“If the paddy is not lifted and MSP is not paid, the Congress will announce its further action plan,” said Bajwa.
He said farmers had voted for the SAD-BJP alliance in the hope of getting a better deal. “During the Congress government, farmers were paid MSP and payments were made instantly.”
Stating that 5,000 farmers had committed suicides during the SAD-BJP government’s regime, Bajwa demanded a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the affected families.
Others who addressed the rally included Balwinder Singh Ladi, Sahib Singh Mand, Bhupinderpal Singh Witty and Ujjal Didar Singh Aulakh.