Punjab’s farmers’ body on Thursday intensified their protest at several toll plazas in the state against the Punjab government for ignoring their demands.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) gave a call for holding protests at 18 toll plazas in the state for a month beginning Thursday, to press the state government to accept their various demands, including farm debt waiver, remunerative prices for their crops and compensation for damage to crops.
During their protest, farmers will not allow the fee to be deducted for any vehicle passing through the toll plazas, KMSC General Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher said, adding that they are free for commuters in the state till January 15.
He alleged an apathetic attitude of the state government towards the issues of farmers. Pandher further said they will ensure that the employees of toll plazas get their salary for this month. He further said they will also not let the toll plaza operators raise toll charges.
The toll plazas are located in Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Tarn Taran, Pathankot, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Moga, Jalandhar and Kapurthala.
Pandher said farmers owing allegiance to the KMSC earlier held protests at the deputy commissioner’s offices in the nine districts but their demands were ignored.
The KMSC has also threatened to make more toll plazas free in the coming days if the state government did not accept their demands.
On December 7, Punjab Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal urged representatives of the KMSC to withdraw their protest, assuring them that the state government was striving to resolve the issues of growers.
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), a farmers’ organisation, on Thursday said it would take out a national level ‘Kisan Garjana’ protest march in Delhi on December 19 to seek various relief measures for the cultivators to improve their condition.
BKS’ executive committee member Nana Aakhre said in a release that farmers, who provide food grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, etc, are “very disappointed” today due to lack of returns to their farm produce, and are committing suicide due to it.
“In order to address the woes of the farmers, the BKS demands profitable prices on all the farm produce. Also, Goods and Services Tax (GST) should not be levied on the farm produce and the financial relief provided under the Kisan Samman Nidhi should be increased,” it said.
On December 9, scores of farmers affiliated to the All India Kisan Congress on Friday gathered at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to demand a legal guarantee for MSP and compensation for the kin of farmers killed in last year’s agitation against the Centre’s three farm laws.
The Congress’ unit for farmers also accused the BJP-led central government of not cooperating with farmers and reneging on its promises made to them following which, the year-long stir at Delhi borders was suspended. The contentious farm laws were scrapped by Parliament in November last year.