Protesting farmers meet Punjab CM Channi, demand toll-free movement of vehicles
Protesting farmers, intending to pressurise the Congress government in Punjab to secure a bunch of demands including debt waiver, on Thursday met the state's chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and presented their claims before the administration. According to farmer leader Joginder Singh, the farmers informed the chief minister of their demands – which include farm loan waivers, cancellation of FIRs lodged against farmers during the anti-farm law agitation, and compensation over land acquired for highway projects.
The farmers, in their meeting with Punjab chief minister Channi, also demanded toll-free movement of their vehicles.
Channi, in turn, assured the farmers that he will talk to Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister of road transport and highways.
“We had a good meeting with the farmers' unions today,” the chief minister told reporters later in the day. “Many of their issues have been resolved. Farmers' loans up to ₹two lakhs will be waived in the next 10-12 days.”
The next meeting between the state administration and the protesting farmers will take place on December 29, said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta Ugrahan Punjab president Joginder Singh to the ANI news agency.
“We met Punjab CM today over our demands which included farm loan waiver, compensation, etc,” Singh was quoted as saying. “The chief minister has said that he will talk to Union minister Nitin Gadkari on this. The next meeting is on December 29.”
Farmer unions, part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), have over the past four days put up demonstrations across multiple protest sites in Punjab, demanding a complete waiver of farm loans and compensation to the kin of those who died during the anti-farm laws stir. From Monday to Wednesday, they blocked railway tracks at different places in Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, and Hoshiarpur, affecting the movement of as many as 400 trains.
According to the Northern Railway, the movement of more than 280 trains was affected in the last 24 hours alone. The Feroze division railway officials had said yesterday that 84 trains were cancelled, 47 short-terminated, and 25 short-originated.
Meanwhile, a group of farmers also staged a sit-in on Wednesday outside the office of the deputy commissioner (DC) in Ludhiana.
DC Varinder Kumar Sharma, who was not allowed to move out for lunch by the protesting farmers, finally came out of his office in the evening under a security cover.