The Punjab Congress on Tuesday launched a state-wide protest demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against private sugar mills for not clearing dues of sugarcane growers.
Leading the protest outside Wahid Sandhar Sugar Mill here, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa also asked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to call an emergency session of the Vidhan Sabha on the issue. He also asked the CM to work out the modalities to keep the sugar sector functional keeping in mind the interests of farmers and millers.
Hundreds of farmers and Congress leaders, including party spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira, former minister Joginder Singh Mann, former MLA Amarjit Singh Samra, Ludhiana (north) MLA Rakesh Pandey, Ludhiana (central) MLA Surinder Dawar, Ludhiana (west) MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Mukerian MLA Rajneesh Babbi and Qadian MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa took part in the protest.
Bajwa advised the CM to sit on fast-unto-death outside the official residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get `51,000 crore loan of the farmers waived. The state party chief said he would be the second person after Badal to join the fast-unto-death and make "sacrifice" for the farmers and Punjabis.
"If former PM Manmohan Singh could waive `77,000 crore of farmers' debt in 2006 during the UPA-1 regime, why can't Modi waive just `51,000 crore?" he questioned
Stating that he was not against a package to Bihar, Bajwa said: "If `1,25,000 crore package could be given to Bihar with an eye on assembly polls, why can't Punjab's farmers be bailed out of the current crisis?" He also demanded subsidy to the tune of `60-70 per quintal for Punjab sugar mills on the lines of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Bajwa said the state government should take up issue on priority as Punjab farmers had always played a stellar role in providing food to the entire country, but they are forced to commit suicides due to deepening crisis in the farm sector.
He said the "anti-farmer" National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was planning to shut the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and do away with the minimum support price.
"The government has failed to provide `3 lakh compensations to the farmers who committed suicide due to agrarian crises," he said while demanding `25,000 compensation to the cotton farmers of the Malwa regions who have suffered losses.
(With PTI inputs)