Several farmers in parts of Punjab on Thursday squatted on railway tracks as a part of protest against the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for allegedly adopting anti-farm stance and to express ‘no-confidence’ in the AAP government.
The protest by farmers was held between 12 noon to 3 p.m. in around 15 districts of the State under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), the largest farmer union of Punjab. BKU (U) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan told The Hindu that the purpose of the ‘rail roko’ protest was to wake up the State government from its slumber towards fulfilling the demands of farmers.
“We gathered to express ‘no confidence’ in the six-month-old AAP government. The government is fast losing the faith of the people in Punjab, especially the farmers with their indifferent attitude towards the problems. We are here to give them a wake-up call,” said Mr. Kokrikalan.
Mr. Kokrikalan said that the members of the BKU (U) blocked railway tracks at different places in at least 15 districts across the State and shouted slogans against the government.
He alleged that the AAP government had reneged on the promises made during the Assembly elections in the same way that the earlier ‘anti-people governments’ had been reneging.
“We want the government to immediately pay complete compensation to farmers who have lost their crops due to fake pesticides. Also, this year, the heavy rains and hail have destroyed crops in many parts of the State, the government should without delay pay the compensation,” he said.
“As the paddy harvesting season has started the government should make immediate alternative arrangements for stubble-burning. We oppose all actions being taken by the government against farmers. Farmers should be given a bonus of at least ₹200 per quintal on paddy in connection with the ban on stubble -burning. If the government can’t give it then it does not have any right to stop farmers from burning the stubble,” he said.
Mr. Kokrikalan said that the AAP government had urged the farmers to grow ‘Moong’ pulse and promised to procure the entire crop but the farmers sold majority of the crop to private traders at a throwaway price due to the government’s laxity. “The government also announced an incentive of ₹1,500 per acre to farmers who have planted rice through the DSR (direct seeding) technique but so far the farmers are still waiting for the incentive amount,” he alleged.