Amarinder Singh urges Amit Shah to resolve farmer row, says protests will impact Punjab’s economy

New Delhi: Urging the government of India to resolve the farmer row, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that protests on highways near Delhi will not only impact the economy of Punjab but also threaten the “national security”.

“Discussions are on between the farmers and the centre, there’s nothing for me to resolve. I reiterated my opposition in my meeting with the Home Minister and requested him to resolve the issue as it affects the economy of my state and the security of the nation,” a report by NDTV quoted Amarinder Singh as having said.

On Thursday, Singh met the Home Minister of India Amit Shah in Delhi and held discussions on ways to resolve the current stand-off between the government and farmers protesting over new farm laws. Several leaders in the ruling BJP have accused Amarinder Singh of actively supporting the protesters.

The first meeting on Tuesday fell through as the farmers’ groups turned down the GoI’s second pitch for a committee to discuss their objections to the farm laws.

The Punjab chief minister and his Congress party have been supporting the farmers’ protest and the state Assembly had also passed a set of bills aimed at negating the GoI’s farm legislation that was passed earlier this year.

Singh had earlier said that he and his government were willing to mediate in the talks between the GoI and the farmers in the collective interest of all.

Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since the month of September when the parliament of India passed three farm laws. From last many days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.

After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers have decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they are coming to Delhi.

In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to convince farmers, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.

Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district, but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.

Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.

Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.

They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP. Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.

Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.


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