An 80-year-old farmer from Muktsar district of Punjab, who had to be rushed to a hospital, was among those who sustained injuries as the Chandigarh police used the water cannon to prevent members of the Bhartiya Kissan Union-Lakhowal (BKU-L) from entering the city to submit a memorandum to the Punjab governor.
Identified as Karnail, the octogenarian suffered the injuries in the police action after members of the outfit tried to cross the barricades that were put up on the Chandigarh-Punjab border, and one of them even rammed a tractor-trolley into the barricades.
The protesters — agitating against the BJP’s central government for not keeping its promises — included farmers from both Punjab and Haryana. They gathered at Gurdwara Amb Sahib here and started their march towards Raj Bhawan, Chandigarh, around 2pm. As per a decision of the Indian Co-ordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements, this march was a part of a nationwide protest against the central government for its “anti-farmer policies”.
Addressing the farmers on the occasion, BKU-L president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said, “One of the major reasons for farmers’ suicides is the low price for their crops... We are upset with the Modi government for not paying attention to resolving our issues. Since the last four decades, farmers have been receiving prices that are lower than the cost.”
He claimed that, according to a study conducted by the Punjab Farmers’ Commission, “due to low minimum support price of paddy alone, during the the last 20 years farmers have suffered losses of Rs 40,000 crore.”
The national spokesperson of the BKU, Rakesh Tikait, in his address said, “The central government had formed the Swaminathan Commission to study and recommend suggestions to prevent suicides due to farming losses.
This commission submitted its report in 2006 and recommended that to prevent farmers from committing suicides, a formula for giving 50% profit over input cost should be fixed; but till now the recommendations of the report have not been implemented.”
What are the farmers’ demands?
1. MSP of agriculture produce be fixed as per report of Dr MS Swaminathan — 50% profit on total cost
2. All agriculture debts be waived
3. Farmer Income Commission be constituted for fixing minimum income for livelihood
4. Budget for agriculture be presented separately on the lines of budget of railways
5. As farming is not a viable profession now, reservation for children of farmers in govt jobs and educational institutions be given
6. Bind sugar mills to release payments to farmers within 15 days
7. Law be made for strict punishment for sales and manufacturing of duplicate pesticides
8. Punjab Indebtness Act 2005 be implemented with immediate effect
9. Entire expenditure of the tubewell connection (agriculture) be waived for all farmers having holding up to two and a half acres