Punjab CM Amarinder Singh at a protest over farm laws, at Khatkar Kalan, Bhagat Singh’s village, in Punjab on Monday.(PTI Photo)
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh at a protest over farm laws, at Khatkar Kalan, Bhagat Singh’s village, in Punjab on Monday.(PTI Photo)

Punjab set to move Supreme Court on farm laws as stir intensifies

Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the legislation, which the government says will enable them to sell their produce in any market of their choice rather than limit them to government-run mandis.
By Gagandeep Jassowal
UPDATED ON SEP 29, 2020 02:47 AM IST

Punjab, where angry farmers are protesting against the three farm bills enacted by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), will challenge the legislation in the Supreme Court, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said on Monday, accusing the federal government of trying to dismantle the farming system as it exists now.

“Our lawyers are coming from Delhi tomorrow (on Tuesday). We will discuss how to proceed in the matter and then challenge the legislation in the Supreme Court,” Captain Amarinder Singh said in Khatkar Kalan, where he staged a sit-in protest against the laws.

Khatkar Kalan is the village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Monday marked the freedom fighter’s birth anniversary.

Also read| Farm bills: Protesters set tractor on fire near India Gate, five arrested

The three bills - the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 - have become acts after President Ram Nath Kovind signed them into law.

Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the legislation, which the government says will enable them to sell their produce in any market of their choice rather than limit them to government-run mandis called agricultural produce marketing committees, or APMCs. The protestors say the Centre’s farm reforms could pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big companies.

Also read: Sonia Gandhi urges Congress-ruled states to override Centre’s farm laws

The legislation seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters and large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at pre-agreed prices. The amendment to the Essential Commodities Act will remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion and potato from the list of essential items and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.

 

 Captain Amarinder Singh said that he will request Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to join the farmers’ protest. “Rahul Gandhi has been tweeting daily and issuing statements that the BJP {Bharatiya Janata Party} has betrayed the farmers,” he said.

“The BJP has snatched away the constitutional powers of one state after the other. How do we run the state? BJP leaders think they will remain in power, but I want to remind them that the Akalis also thought so. People threw them out. It is a decision of the people to keep political parties in power or not,” he said.

Targeting the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Congress leader said, “The Akalis are trying all tactics, but they’re not working because once you let people down, they don’t forget.”

The Akali Dal has walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre to protest against the farm legislation.

Defending farmers for holding protests against the newly enacted laws, the CM said they had the right to do so as “you are taking away their livelihood”.

He accused the central government of snatching the rights of states and of trying to dismantle the minimum support price, mandi system and the public distribution system (PDS) with the farm laws.

“Their motive is to demolish everything which farmers have got after a long struggle. From the green and white revolution till now, rights which farmers acquired, one by one all of them are being demolished with these farm laws,” Singh said.

“MSP and mandi system will be dismantled with these farm laws and their next target is FCI {Food Corporation of India},” he said, claiming that the government also want to dismantle the public distribution system that channels subsidised foodgrains to the poor.

The government has denied that either the federally fixed MSPs or the PDS will be done away with.

(With agency inputs)

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