Protests Against Farm Bills On in Punjab, Haryana as PM Allays Fears

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The farmers say the two Bills are being brought for the benefit of corporates and ending the minimum price-based procurement of farm produce by the government

Clarion India 

NEW DELHI – After massive protests by farmers in parts of north India over the Central Government’s three farm-related Bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday tried to reassure the farmers by saying that these laws were not against ‘Agriculture Mandi.’

He wrote a tweet in Hindi which said: “I want to make it clear these laws are not against agriculture ‘mandi’, it will continue like it always has.”

He said, “I want to assure farmers that minimum support price, govt procurement of their produce will continue,” he said.

Three legislations—Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill– were passed by the Lok Sabha recently.

Farmers in Haryana and Punjab are up in arms against the Bills even as the Centre is bent on passing them in Parliament in coming days.

On Monday, the police used water cannons against Youth Congress protesters who were trying to break the barricades at a highway near the Punjab-Haryana border.

On paper, the new laws will allow the farmers to sell their produce at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC)-regulated ‘mandis.’

However, the farmers say the two Bills are being brought for the benefit of corporates and ending the minimum price-based procurement of farm produce by the government. There are apprehensions that with the new laws, farmers will no longer be assured of the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Thousands of farmers came out on highways in several villages and towns of Haryana to protest the Central Government’s plans. In Yamuna Nagar, farmers associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Sunday blocked National Highway 344 that leads to Uttarakhand.

The farmers, according to reports, said they will not be intimidated by use of force against them by the police.

Hindustan Times quoted BKU president Gurnam Singh Charuni saying, “I want to assure the farmers of the state that the agitation will continue till the Central Government withdraws its ordinances and the government cannot suppress the voice of the farmers.”

For now, the farmer union leaders say the highways will remain blocked for three hours each day and then the further course will be decided on September 25. Commission agents at agricultural markets have also lent their support to the agitation.

In Kurukshetra, the town where protests began on September 10, the police did not stop the farmers and were involved in managing the traffic on Sunday. Protests were also witnessed in Karnal, Yamunanagar and Kaithal districts. The protestors on Sunday remained largely peaceful.

Politicians from parties in alliance with the BJP in state and Centre have come out in support of farmers. On Thursday, Union Minister from Akali Dal resigned from cabinet in protest against the farm legislations. Ram Karan Kala, a lawmaker in Haryana from Jannayak Janta Party, a BJP ally, joined protesting farmers. Kala told farmers that he would take up their issues with the government.

The supporters of the ruling BJP have unleashed internet trolls against farmers. The trolls have resorted to abuse and hatred. Indian express reported that a Facebook group called ‘Hik Thok Hindu’ wrote posts opposing farmers’ protests calling it ‘Jat agitation’.

‘Justice for Punjabi Hindus’, a group on Facebook with 5,000 members, posted “If Jatt community can’t understand that new agriculture ordinance is not any change but a benefit then how can you expect from these sheep about developing Punjab.”

A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal led by S. Sukhbir Singh Badal was expected to meet the President Ramnath Kovind on Monday to discuss the three controversial farm Bills.

 

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