Police use water cannons to disperse protesting farmers in Punjab

Police block march towards Raj Bhavan

May 14, 2019 04:35 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - MOHALI/CHANDIGARH

Farmers belonging to Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Smiti being dispersed by the police using water cannon.

Farmers belonging to Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Smiti being dispersed by the police using water cannon.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chandigarh, several farmers on Tuesday staged a protest on the Mohali-Chandigarh boundary against the BJP-led government at the Centre and Punjab’s Congress government for adopting what they called an indifferent attitude towards their plight.

The Chandigarh police used water cannon to disperse the farmers as they started their march to “gherao” the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh. They had assembled from across Punjab and were stopped at the Mohali- Chandigarh boundary.

The agitated farmers, under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Samiti, shouted slogans against the Centre and the State government, accusing them of failing to address farmers’ concerns. Farmer leaders said over a dozen farmers sustained injuries as the police used force.

“We are protesting against the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement) because it is detrimental to the interest of farmers. India should keep itself out of RCEP,” Sarvan Singh Pandher, president of the Punjab unit of Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Smiti, told The Hindu .

Mr. Singh claimed that over dozen of farmers have sustained injuries following the use of force by the Police.

“Neither the Centre nor the State government has fulfilled it promises on farmer welfare. Implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which had recommended fixing the minimum support prices for crops at levels at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production is required urgently because lower prices of agricultural produce disproportionate to the prices of farm inputs have resulted farmers landing into the debt trap,” Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Singh said the Punjab government should ensure complete loan waiver for farmers. “Farmers suicide across the State is only rising, the government should waive all outstanding loans, whether private or government loans against the farmers and labourers,” he said.

Mr. Singh said that following an assurance by a representative of the Punjab Governor, farmers have for now decided to call off their protest. “A representative of the Governor has assured us of a meeting on June 4, hence we have decided to lift our protest for now,” he said.

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