The ruling Akali-BJP alliance on Tuesday welcomed the decision of farmer organisations to call off their ‘rail roko’ agitation, while pleading farmers to discontinue their protests altogether for the sake of a congenial atmosphere in Punjab.
Addressing a joint press conference with cabinet minister and BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal, Akali MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said the state government was duty-bound to keep promises made to farmers during their meeting with the chief minister on Tuesday. He, however, said the process to review all old cases against farmer leaders would be initiated only after the entire agitation was called off.
He added that though the government was committed to pay Rs 64 crore as compensation to farm labourers who worked in cotton fields, it would be very difficult to identify these labourers. “Labourers come from other states and it might be impossible to find the real beneficiaries,” said Chandumajra.
The MP said it was also decided that a joint declaration of Akali-BJP leaders would meet the Prime Minister soon and apprise him of the pending issues of the farming community.
Chandumajra said the chief minister had assured farmer organisations that all cases relating to farm labour, including providing them housing and power connections, would be taken up for redressal at the earliest.
Amritsar-Delhi rail route cleared
The Amritsar-New Delhi rail route was cleared on Tuesday after protesting farmers lifted the blockade around 2pm near Muchhal, 28 km from here. Talking to HT, farmer leader Rattan Singh Randhawa said, “We have lifted the blockade in public interest, but our agitation will continue. We will stage protests against Punjab ministers.”
Randhawa added that the farmers’ demands were genuine and it was unfortunate that the government was not fulfilling them.
‘Govt pesticide not spurious’
Akali MP Prem Singh Chandumajra (pic) said the pesticide provided by the Punjab government to cotton farmers was not spurious, as had been alleged earlier.
During the press conference, he said the interim probe report of the state police on the pesticide scam would be made public in the coming days.
He said laboratory tests conducted on the pesticide provided by the government to farmers had shown that it was genuine. He added that spurious pesticide was sold to farmers by shopkeepers operating in the private sector. “The government pesticide accounted for only 10% of the total pesticide used by farmers, who chose to buy it mainly from shops. It is that pesticide which was thrown into canals,” said Chandumajra.
Monday, 8.30pm: Meeting of representatives of 12 farmer unions with Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal ends inconclusively at Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh
Tuesday, 2am: Over five-hour-long meeting of farmer leaders ends at Kisan Bhawan, Chandigarh; it is decided to end the ‘rail roko’ agitation
12.45pm: Farmer leaders announce that the rail blockade is over; protests against Akali ministers to start on Oct 23
2pm: Farmers lift the blockade in Bathinda, Amritsar, Moga and Mansa districts