Farmer unions on Wednesday called for a three-day protest at Badal village, the ancestral place of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in Muktsar district, from January 6. The call given at the first ‘lalkaar’ (challenge) rally at Barnala came a day before their meeting with Badal at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Thursday.
The farmers were earlier scheduled to meet the chief minister on December 7 but the meeting was postponed to December 17.
The chief minister had written a detailed letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 9, seeking his intervention to bail out farmers from the current agrarian crisis. The last meeting of farmers with the chief minister held on October 12 had remained inconclusive since the government was reluctant to meet their demands.
Sukhdev Singh Kokari, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), said they had given sufficient time to the Punjab government to consider their demands before their first ‘lalkar’ rally. “We don’t know the result of the meeting with the CM, but that doesn’t mean the farmer unions should stop their protest against the government in favour of their genuine demands,” Kokari said.
He said the government might get irked at the call of the protest, but if it responded favourably to their demands, farmers might rethink their decision to hold protest at the chief minister’s village.
Buta Singh Burjgill, state president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), said the government had completely failed to keep the promises made during the October 12 meeting. “We are going to raise the issue of delay on the acceptance of farmers’ demands,” he said.
Demands of farmers
Farmers are demanding a compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the loss to the cotton crop and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers who could not get work due to damage to the crop, withdrawal of the Prevention of Damage To Public and Private Property Act, a minimum price of Rs 4,500 per quintal for the basmati 1509 variety and Rs 5,000 for 1121 and clearance of dues of sugarcane growers.
Farmer leader lashes out at Tota Singh
Tarn Taran: Meanwhile, in a press release issued here on Wednesday, Kisan Sangharsh Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu lashed out at agriculture minister Tota Singh, saying it was shameful for the government that the latter had gone scotfree despite his “involvement” in the pesticide scam, which created trouble for cotton growers and forced some of them to commit suicide.