New Delhi: Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday (September 13, 2021) told farmers that their ongoing protests in Punjab are not in the state’s interest. Singh appealed to the representatives of farmers’ unions to not hold protests across the state against the three new farm laws as the state and its people have already expressed solidarity with them on this issue.

“I want to tell Punjab farmers that this is their land. Their ongoing protests here are not in the state’s interest. Instead of holding protests in the state, farmers should mount pressure on the Centre to get farm laws repealed,” Singh said at the foundation laying ceremony in Hoshiarpur.

He said that these ongoing protests at 113 places in Punjab by the farmers were not at all in the interests of the state, which has considerably impacted its economic development and hoped his request would be acceded by the farmers on agitation.

“Anything within the purview of his government was done by us promptly,” Amarinder Singh stated. 

The Congress leader also attacked the Centre and said that the constitution has been amended 127 times since 1950. “So why not one more time to repeal the farm laws for providing succour to the farmers who have been sitting at Singhu and Tikri borders,” he said. 

Amarinder Singh added that the state government has provided Rs 5 lakh to every farmer from the state who died during the agitation against farm laws, besides a job to the next of kin of deceased farmers.

He also launched a scathing attack on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for double-crossing the farmers over the issue of farm laws and said the farm laws were drafted with the consent of the Akali Dal with Harsimrat Kaur Badal as the Union Minister. He claimed that even former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had argued in favour of these laws but changed their tune completely when their move backfired.

This is to be noted that farmers have been protesting since November last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The measures, introduced last September, allow farmers to directly sell their produce, outside government-regulated wholesale markets, to big buyers. The government says this will unshackle farmers and help them get better prices. Farmers, however, say the legislation will hurt their livelihood and leave them with scant bargaining power against big private retailers and food processors.

Farmer leaders and the Centre have also held several rounds of talks but the impasse remains.

(With agency inputs)

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