Farmer unions have decided to shift their protest base from Bathinda district as they now intend to sit on a three-day round-the-clock protest in Moga and Amritsar districts from November 4.
Unlike the earlier issue of compensation for cotton damage, farmer unions have now decided to corner the Punjab government on the basmati issue for which they are getting negligible returns.
For the past over two months, farmer unions had led their protest from Bathinda at regular intervals to build pressure on the government in favour of their demands.
However, changing tactics, they will now focus on basmati-dominated districts, while keeping their cotton-related demands as secondary after their repeated meetings with the state government on the issue didn’t yield much.
The call by farmer unions to gherao SAD ministers and MPs has failed to leave an impact, forcing its leaders to redesign their protest.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan), said like cotton, basmati is one of the important issues as farmers faced harassment at the hands of private traders. “The state government made farmers grow basmati varieties-1509 and 1121-under its diversification project, and now it is going back instead of ensuring adequate prices,” Kokri said.
Basmati growers are reportedly being paid Rs 1,200-1,400 per quintal for the 1509 variety, and Rs 1,800 per quintal for the 1121 variety.
Buta Singh Burjgill, state president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), said farmers were not being paid the amount they invested in basmati. “In such conditions, many farmers have started storing basmati with the hope to get better prices later. But the needy ones have no option but to sell the crop at meagre prices,” he said.
Farmers are demanding Rs 4,500 per quintal for the 1509 variety and Rs 5,000 for the 1121 one.
When asked the reason behind shifting their base to Moga and Amritsar districts, the leaders said the decision had been taken after sensing the conditions. They said they would continue to fight for adequate compensation for the damage to cotton crop.
Their other demands are a compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the loss to their cotton crop and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers.
Bathinda protest capital of state
Five-day protest from August 24 to 28 outside the deputy commissioner’s office, demanding compensation for suicide victims
Three-day protest by farm labourers from September 2 to 4 in favour of their demands
One-day protest by eight farmer unions on September 10
18-day protest by farmers outside the DC office from September 17 to October 4
Blocked railway tracks at Rampura, Pathrala and Shergarh from October 7-12