BKU Ekta-Sidhupur members threaten to go on indefinite fast from today
Chandigarh, November 18
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today took on farmer unions for “holding the state government to ransom” by blocking roads and staging dharnas to get their demands fulfilled. He accused some of the farmer unions of staging dharnas “for monetary considerations”. This has not gone down well with the protesting farmer unions led by BKU Ekta-Sidhupur, who have threatened to go on an indefinite fast from Saturday afternoon.
“Blocking roads and disrupting traffic flow is not good. It is becoming a trend to hold a dharna at the drop of a hat. People are getting inconvenienced. So far, there is public sympathy with you. But, you will lose it if the public is inconvenienced by your actions. It is your right to hold a peaceful protest but please do it outside houses of our MLAs/ministers or at the DC office instead,” he said to farm unions.
He said some unions were protesting only to mark their presence. “Some of the unions have even done advance bookings for dharnas. They first stage a dharna while seeking a meeting with the government and then they do it again after the meeting. They do it to seek funds and then, they have to show that the collected money is being utilised,” he said.
Mann said since the AAP government had taken over seven months ago, a large number of farmer-friendly decisions had been taken, including the purchase of moong on the MSP, paying incentives for the direct seeding of rice, etc. “Of the 624 farmers who had died in the struggle, family members of 326 have already been given jobs. As and when more vacancies are created in the government, the remaining people, too, will be adjusted,” he said.
As soon as the CM’s statement came out, farmer unions expressed their
anger. In Amritsar, the BKU Ekta-Sidhupur-led dharna was intensified and its activists blocked the highway near Kathunangal.
Sukhdev Singh Bhojraj, who is a member of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, told The Tribune that they had decided to give the state government time till 12 noon on Saturday for acceding to their demands.
“First, they refused to implement the agreement reached with us. Now, they are defaming us for protesting. If they do not concede to our demands by tomorrow noon, we will hold an indefinite fast at all protest sites.
These unions have been demanding jobs for the next of kin and monetary compensation for families of farmers who died in the year-long struggle against farm laws, bonus for wheat yield loss, cancellation of FIRs against farmers for stubble-burning, among their 13 demands. The CM today said that the government had accepted almost all these demands, but it needed time to implement these.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU Ekta-Ugrahan, said, “He (CM Mann) is himself a farmer. How can he be insensitive? Only 10 per cent of the moong was bought. We stage dharnas only in desperation, when our demands are not met.”
However, there were others who chose to agree with the CM. Ruldu Singh Mansa of the Punjab Kisan Union said, “Those staging dharnas are being aided by the BJP. It is a democratic right to hold protests, but the method adopted by the protesting unions is wrong.”