Thursday, April, 25,2024

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"We want PM Modi to have talks" says farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher ahead of meeting with Centre today

Shambu Border, Ambala: The General Secretary of Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Sarwan Singh Pandher on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold talks with the farmers and find a solution for their demands.
"We have said it earlier also. It is not a question of going ahead, we are not saying that we will break your barricade, there are two things, today there is a meeting with the Union Ministers, and we would like the Prime Minister himself to talk to them and these demands should be resolved today. This will be pleasant for everyone," Pandher said while addressing a press conference at Shambu Border.
"Secondly, as this is a democratic country, we should be allowed to carry out our movement peacefully in Delhi, this path should be opened by the government itself and the agenda will be the same as we have," he added.
A meeting of the farmer unions and the central government has been scheduled for today at 5 pm.
The farmer leader further criticised the centre's way of handling the protests pointing out the high-level security measures involving even para-military forces.
"There were injuries to the farmers, our medical practitioner here is saying that one bandage is being applied every minute, which means 60 bandages are being applied in an hour. Here at the Shambhu border, this kind of heavy use of security and resistance, is being made from the other side, and secondly, it is not the police but the paramilitary forces who are attacking us," he said.
"This is the first time that any government of the country has used paramilitary forces against the farmer labour movement, I would like to tell. Tear gas is commonly used, but look at the other ways, smoke cell air bursts are also being utilized, smoke cell ground bursts are also being used and heavy explosion emissions are also being utilized. All this is going on like this, that is why we say that the way the central government is abusing its power over farmers and labourers, it should think again on these things," he added.
"We are seeing, that the government wants to completely crush the farmer's movement under its wings, we would like to think about it again, this should not happen, we are farmers and labourers of this country, we are the ones who make the country, this country is ours and the government will have to listen to our voice, otherwise whatever happens next will not be good. We are going to the meeting today in a completely positive mood that some positive solution will emerge from this meeting in the coming time," the farmer leader said.
Pandher further outlined the subsidy offered to farmers under the Electricity Act highlighting that they are against the privatisation that is happening.
"If you want to give subsidy to farmers or anyone else, a provision has been made that you can give subsidy but we have demanded that this is the policy of privatization, it should not be brought when the earlier law was the Electricity Act of 1948, when it was broken and made the 2003 Act," the farmer leader remarked.
"When the 2023 Act came, private corporates were given the rights to generate electricity, now when the 2023 Act has come, private corporates have also got the rights to fix the prices of electricity, due to this, the common people of the entire country, the ordinary consumers, have a lot of burden on them. There will be more pressure to pay more bills, so look at those who were saying that we have not done anything before this Piyush Goyal ji's department had made the ordinance, Electricity Fund License System 2022, so it has already been notified. Due to which our grids are going to private corporates, we would like something like this to come out of this meeting today," he said.
He further emphasised the support offered to the protest by the farmer unions from other states including, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and also Haryana, which he alleged the media is 'covering up'. He also alleged that those supporting the protests are arrested in these states.
"Our front can be resolved, so much is happening with us across the country, yesterday the farmer leaders of the farmer organizations from UP that supported us were arrested, and arrests have been made in Madhya Pradesh like there have been more and more arrests in other states and despite this, a huge movement is taking place in our favour in Tamil Nadu, a huge movement is taking place in Kerala, of course, there is no news from the media in Haryana, protests are still going on at many places in Haryana," he said.
"The news is being confirmed, people are coming out, we would like to tell the whole country that you can implement the law to guarantee MSP purchase, apart from Punjab, Haryana, entire UP, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, if all the states want it then we need it," he added.
The farmer leader also urged all farmers to stand up against the government and demand the implementation of the MSP guarantee.
"No matter whose side you are on, whether you are from BJP, you are a farmer, you stand up and oppose this government and demand that a law should be made to guarantee MSP purchase," Pandher said.
The farmer leader also rubbished all claims of linking the protest with any political party or their agenda saying that they are farmers and labourers of the country.
"We feel, again and again, the same question arises, yes see, we already knew that when we came to the government If we protest then it is certain that all those wearing turbans will be linked with Khalistan. We had made it clear yesterday also that we do not have any such agenda. We are the farmers and labourers of the country," he said.
"Almost all the unions of the country are with us in the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha. Leaders from Bihar have also come here, leaders from Madhya Pradesh have also reached here, leaders from South have also come here, there is movement from all the countries, there is a movement in large numbers from Haryana too," he added.
"So this has already been the policy of BJP, that in this way, they work to divide the entire country in name. We will request that they should not do this. We are the farmers of this country. We should sit together and solve these issues. You are saying it is pro-Congress we are speaking. Congress has also been equally guilty of these pro-corporate policies, which the BJP is currently doing and then calling them pro-Left, we have been opposing Pro Left as well, just as CPI, and CPIM have won MLAs in Bihar. So what did they do for the country, some of us also say that the Punjab government is supporting us, we have also been criticizing the Punjab government, we have also been critical of the tasks in which the Punjab government has failed. It is unfair to put such blame on us," he added.
The farmers have put forth 12 demands before the central government for which they're marching to Delhi. The protest this time has been called by Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee led by farmer union leaders Jagjeet Singh Dallewal and Sarwan Singh Pandher.
According to the protesting farmers, the centre promised them better crop prices, after which they ended the 2021 protest. They are demanding to enact a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, in line with the Swaminathan Commission report.
They are also demanding a complete debt waiver and a scheme to provide pensions to farmers and farm labourers.
The farmers have also urged to scrap the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 and are demanding to reintroduce the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, ensuring consent from farmers and compensation at 4 times the collector rate.
Further, they are demanding to punish those involved in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings. An appeal to provide 200 days of employment per year and a daily wage of Rs 700 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA), linking it with farming, has also been made by the farmers.
Also, they have demanded compensation to the families of farmers who died during the protests in 2021 and a job for any family member.

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