Farmers’ rage spills on to streets
Scores of farmers took to the streets on Friday to air their anger against the contentious farm legislations, passed by the Parliament earlier this week, and blocked state and national highways for over eight hours as part of a nationwide agitation.
The Ladhowal Toll Plaza, on National Highway-44, which was the epicentre of the protest in Ludhiana, was blocked with tractors between 9am to 4pm, leaving the commuters hassled. Police personnel remained on their toes, trying to divert the traffic towards the Sidhwan Bet Area.
Besides farmers, others involved directly or indirectly with the agricultural sector, including small businessmen and arhtiyas, joined the protest and shouted slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government.
Interestingly, youngsters outnumbered the elderly, and marched through the roads, holding black flags and demanding the roll back of the new farm legislations. Many were even seen chanting “Wahe Guru Ji Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Fateh” as they marched on. Some others were seen serving water and tea to the elderly who had come for the protest. A sizeable number was also seen capturing photos and videos of the protest and uploading it on social media platforms.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s nephew, Prof Jagmohan Singh, who addressing the gathering, said, “Earlier, the farmers’ protest was considered a protest by the elderly, but today, youngsters have outshined the old. If youngsters continue to support the protest, then the government will be compelled to withdraw the bill.”
Rail Roko from October 1
Addressing the gathering, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Balbir Singh Rajewal announced that farmers’ unions will lay siege to the railway tracks from October 1 and stop the movement of trains for an indefinite period if the legislations are not rolled back.
He said, “If the Centre does not agree to our demands, we will ask Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to call a special assembly session and pass an act in the state to stall the implementation of these draconian laws.”
BKU general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said, “The country is being sold to corporate houses, which are taking over the Food Cooperation of India (FCI) also. We had asked the government to provide us a copy of the legislations but it was not shown to us. We are going to translate the legislations in Punjabi so that farmers can understand how the Centre is planning to rob them of their land.”
‘Bollywood drugs issue being raked up to divert agitators’
Meanwhile, the agitators rued that the government was trying to divert attention from real issues, such as those of the farm sector, by raking up the Bollywood drug issue.
Amarinder Singh of Sadhugarh village in Anandpur Sahib, who returned from United States (US) to join his father in progressive farming, said the concepts of contract farming have failed badly in the US and Europe. “Now, the same concept is being implemented in India which is going to completely ruin the farming sector of our state. As we are protesting, the government is diverting the attention by raking up the silly issue of Bollywood celebs taking drugs,” he said.
Mahinder Singh Grewal, a progressive farmer who has been honoured by PAU on several occasions, said the Centre is misguiding people. “Earlier too, farmers could sell their crop anywhere in the county through National Agriculture Market (eNAM) and other methods. And many farmers are still doing contract farming. With the new Act, the corporates have got more power to hoard the crop as the law has also been made favourable for them and there is hardly anything to benefit the farmers,” said Grewal.