Ludhiana by Sandeep Shrama, WNS: AMID PROTESTS outside the venue of ‘Kisan Samvad Sammelan’, BJP’s Punjab unit organised the second program of its eight days’ series at Sangrur. The venue was Sarv Hitkari School, Sangrur, where Minister of State (Agriculture) Kailash Chaudhary spoke with farmers called by BJP’s district unit virtually, about the “benefits” of farm laws.
Farmers who were sitting on the tracks at Sangrur railway station and the toll plaza reached the spot and protested against the event under the banner of Kirti Kisan Union (KKU). Balwinder Longowal, leader of KKU’s youth wing, said Punjab Police used force to disperse them and one of their members also sustained minor injuries. However, they continued to sit near the venue of the school till the sammelan ended.
Not many farmers were seen at the event. BJP’s district president Randeep Deol, “Around 80 farmers came to attend this meeting, a few labourers had also come as they too are part of these farm laws. Nearly 50 farmers wanted to come in, but they were not allowed by administration to enter. A few comrades reached our venue showing red flags. They were not part of any farmer union but communists who opposed BJP for no reason. Inside the venue, the programme went smoothly.”
Sangrur DC Ramvir, asked to comment on claims that the administration did not allow many farmers to the school, said, ”We were not even aware of any such program being organised by BJP as they never sought any permission for it. However when farmers gathered outside the venue, SSP Sangrur, ADC went to maintain law and order. We had dispersed them, there was no disturbance at all in that meeting.”
At the Samvad Sammelan, not more than five questions were asked by the farmers present.
Union leader Kaminder Singh Lalowal said, “We are from the youth wing of KKU and are protesting against farm laws since June. Fact is that inside the venue, there were no farmers, they had called some labourers doing loading unloading work in mandis, kisan wing of BJP or staff of that school. The real farmer is out on the roads. They need to talk to us rather than less than 100 persons.”
Farmers said they were stopped by police at two places but broke those nakas and reached the school where mild force was used against them. Balvir Singh Jaloor, representative of Punjab Kisan Union, alleged that Sangrur police was helping BJP and troubling the farmers. Longowal said, “Last week, we had gheraoed the RSS office of Sangrur and three of our farmers have been jailed with charges of hurting religious sentiments.” Meanwhile, allegations have been leveled by BJP that a Swastik sign was blackened by protestors.
MoS Chaudhary said, “All those who are spreading misinformation about these farm laws are deceiving farmers because these bills have just one soul — ‘to give freedom to farmer’. India got freedom in 1947 and farmer is getting freedom in 2020 from all those laws which were restricting his growth and were not allowing his income to grow. Now farmers can sell their products anywhere in the country. Maximum struggle happens in ,andis and farmers suffer a lot over not getting proper rate of their product.”
He further said, “These laws are 99.9 per cent implementation of the Swaminathan Report and all these three bills have been mentioned in that report.”
“The PM wants to make 10,000 farmer produce organisations (FPOs). Hence, 300 or more farmers can make such FPOs and can set up their own processing units. Under this project, 15 lakh will be the equity grant for starting this FPO while 18 lakh for running FPO . This one FPO will get help of Rs 33 lakh in all. One can get a loan for setting up a processing unit from the Government of India which can be returned in 7 years. In case the FPO fails, GoI will pay back loan to banks and not the farmers,” he added.
The minister also spoke about contract farming in which he said that contract will be of crop and not land as it is being misinformed. “Companies who do contracts to pay a particular price of crops to farmer will have to pay. If the company backs out, they will be fined heavily. Congress had a budget for agriculture of not more than Rs 14,000 crore under UPA, now it is Rs 1.34 lakh crore under NDA…”