Farmers' kin battle for compensation
The district's farmers might well be light years away from the well-publicised Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit (PPAS), slated to begin in Mohali, on Sunday, if the protests are anything to go by.
Protesters, mostly members of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, deployed an improvised and banned vehicle (Gharukas) to mobilise support across villages on Sunday. This, even as the state government is reported to have arranged 800 buses to fetch farmers to get the requisite crowd at the venue in Mohali.
On Friday, farmers had decided to extend their three-day stir indefinitely and have been camping on the national highway.
Most protesters, especially hundreds of women, have been demanding a compensation of Rs 2 lakh after the earning farm hand of the family reportedly committed suicide due to farm distress.
"We have been demanding Rs 2 lakh in compensation. Successive state governments have failed to make agricultural a profitable profession. A government survey had identified 6,700 houses where farmers had ended their lives and could be given the compensation.
However, later only 4,800 were found fit to be awarded compensation. So, the amount was Rs 96 crore, but only Rs 30 crore has been released. Most families have been given only Rs 1 lakh, against the promised Rs 2 lakh. More than 1,800 families have been given nothing."
In an effort to reach truce, Bathinda MLA Sarup Chand Singla had met union leaders on Friday, to no avail.
However, the government will go ahead with its plans to carry farmers to the venue in Mohali on Sunday. More than 800 buses carrying 50 farmers each will be at the venue on Sunday," said state agricultural income officer Gurvinder Singh.