Farmer organisations ended their 18-day-old protest in support of their demands here on Sunday. With this, police and locals heaved a sigh of relief as the protest had kept the police on toes and inconvenienced people.
Farmers have been demanding a compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the cotton damage and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers. However, the government is providing only Rs 8,000 per acre to affected farmers in case of complete damage to the crop.
Leaders of eight farmer unions addressed the farmers on the last day and appealed to them to be present in large numbers to block rail traffic in the state on October 7 and 8.
Hundreds of farmers had been camping outside the deputy commissioner’s office on the Bathinda-Mansa road since September 17. The protest had become a nuisance for locals as besides disrupting the traffic on the main road, protest marches would bring the traffic to a halt. The police remained on toes throughout the protest days as cops from seven districts had been called to maintain law and order.
Addressing the gathering, farmer leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan said they were taking their protest to the next level by giving a call for blocking rail traffic on two days. “Our protest is far from over. We are winding it up to make arrangements for ensuring complete blockade of rail tracks across the state. If needed, we will extend the rail blockade by a few days,” he said.
The talks between farmers and the government had failed on Saturday following which the farmers decided to block rail traffic.
Farmer activist Ruldu Singh Mansa said it was up to the government to meet their demands as they had already briefed it in detail. “We knew the talks with the government would remain inconclusive, but we joined them to know the government’s attitude to the plight of farmers,” he said.
No deal with govt, says farmer leader
When asked if farmer bodies had struck a deal with the state government, Sukhdev Singh Kokari, general secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan), said they were holding a protest in a phased manner and the next phase is blocking rail traffic. “Had we struck a deal, why would we block rail lines? The decision was taken after getting no positive response from the government,” Kokari said.
He said the farmer bodies had called an emergency meeting on October 8 to chalk out the next course of action. All rail tracks leading to the national capital would be blocked across the state, he said.
*Compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for cotton damage and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers
*Price of Rs 4,500 per quintal for 1509 basmati and Rs 5,000 per quintal for 1121 variety
*To waive debts of farmers besides providing additional relief package of Rs 5 lakh to economically weaker families
*To clear payments of sugarcane growers