Bathinda/Chandigarh: Protesting against inadequate compensation for the cotton crop loss due to the whitefly attack in the state, eight farm organisations in Punjab will hold a two-day ‘rail roko’ programme from Wednesday, even as the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has appealed to them not to go ahead with the protest.
Farmers plan to block railway lines leading to the national capital from the state. The places chosen for the purpose are Phagwara (Kapurthala), Beas (Amritsar), Rampura town (Bathinda), Shergarh and Pathrala villages (Muktsar), Patiala city, and Dagru village (Moga). Rail lines would also be blocked in Ludhiana, Sangrur and Gurdaspur districts.
Farmers have decided to go ahead with their protest after their talks with the state government on October 3 remained inconclusive. Farmers are demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the loss to their cotton crop and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers. They are also seeking Rs 4,500 per quintal for the 1509 basmati variety and Rs 5,000 for the 1121 variety, waiver of debts, additional relief package of Rs 5 lakh to economically weaker families, and clearance of sugarcane growers’ payments.
A section of farmer bodies is also demanding a “fair’ probe into the multi-crore pesticide scam. They are of the opinion that former director, agriculture, Mangal Singh Sandhu, has been made the scapegoat in the scam while the real culprits have been let off. They have questioned the clean chit given to agriculture minister Jathedar Tota Singh in the scam.
Meanwhile, the SAD on Tuesday asked the protesting farmer organisations not to cause disruption and chaos in the state for their “narrow vested interests”. In a statement here, Akali MPs Prem Singh Chandumajra and Balwinder Singh Bhunder said the farmer bodies, including Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU, Ekta) and BKU (Ugrahan), were misleading people about the action taken by the state government following the whitefly attack on the cotton crop.
The state police has also geared up for the agitation, with the Amritsar police making it clear that they would not allow disruption of rail traffic anywhere in the border range.