Farmers protest over distress sale of basmati, cotton

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Amritsar/Tarn Taran/Gurdaspur/Bathinda/Mansa
  • Updated: Sep 25, 2015 10:33 IST

After staging a vociferous protest outside the Amritsar deputy commissioner office, hundreds of farmers, who are upset over the distress sale of PUSA-1509 and 1121 basmati varieties, blocked National Highway-1 near Manawala, 10 km from Amritsar, on Thursday.

Holding both, the Centre and the state government responsible for the situation, the farmer leaders said they have been left with no choice other than launching an agitation against the government. The farmers, who in large numbers had gathered outside the office of DC Ravi Bhagat, raised slogans against, both, the Badal and the Modi government.

Tarn Taran farmers seek MSP for basmati

Demanding minimum support prices (MSP) for PUSA-1509 and 1121 Basmati varieties, thousands of farmers on Thursday staged a dharna outside the deputy commissioner office and blocked the Amritsar-Bathinda Highway near Grain Market, here.

The farmers held the demonstration on the call by Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC), which has sizeable base in Tarn Taran and other districts of Majha region. Notably, hundreds of women participated in the demonstration. The protest hit the routine life of locals and commuters, as traffic was totally blocked on the highway and commuters had to pass through the narrow roads of the city. It led to traffic chaos here.

Modi accused of making false promises

To highlight the ‘anti-farmer policies’ of the state and the central government, the farmers owing allegiance to the district unit of Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC), Punjab, staged a dharna outside the deputy commissioner’s office and blocked traffic on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road at the Post Office Chowk, here. The KSC leaders accused Modi of coming to power on false promises. “He has betrayed the interests of farmers by ‘allowing’ to withdraw the government agencies from the process of procurement of crops that has left the farmers at the mercy of private traders, who always have their own axe to grind,” they said.

AAP MP Gandhi snubbed

A day after they snubbed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, by not allowing him to address the protesting farmers and share stage with them, the farmer leaders on Thursday had heated arguments with suspended AAP MP from Patiala, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, and his supporters, who had come to join the ongoing protest of farmers, demanding compensation for damage to the cotton crop due to whitefly attack.

Interestingly the incident took place minutes after Gandhi, in a press conference, had showered words of praise on the farmers’ unions for holding the protest in support of distressed farmers and announced to support them by joining their protest. Gandhi, who blamed the state government for being apathetical towards farmer’s issues, when reached the site to show solidarity with the protesting farmers, he was snubbed by the farmer leaders.

“If you want you can force the government for taking decision in favour of the farmers. Wherever you will sit, it will automatically turn into a protest.

But farmers’ woes are not on your priority. Rather, your focus is on 2017 Punjab assembly polls and you are doing all this keeping in view the polls,” said a Kisan leader.

Ex-MLA asks leaders to deposit one-year salaries for farmers

Former MLA Mangat Rai Bansal suggested the Punjab government must pass resolution to make it mandatory for all incumbent and former members of Parliament and MLAs to deposit their salaries and pensions of one year into state treasury as compensation funds for farmers.

He further suggested that the government should implement the same idea for mayors, councillors, chairman of boards, sarpanches and other leaders appointed on other political posts.

With inputs from Aseem Bassi, Sachin Sharma, Surjit Singh and Kamaljit Singh Kamal

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