Representational Image. Image Courtesy: AFP
Chandigarh: Farmers in Punjab on Monday held a state-wide protest against the Centre over the issues of ordinances related to the agriculture sector and rising fuel prices.
The protesting growers, owing allegiance to different farmers' outfits, parked their tractors on the side of the roads for two-three hours as a mark of protest against what they described as "anti-farmers" policies.
The farmers said they took all precautions and followed all safety norms, including wearing marks and maintaining physical distance, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) and BKU (Rajewal) factions and some other outfits held agitation.
The protests came despite Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's appeal to farmers' outfits to postpone them because of the restrictions in place to check the spread of novel coronavirus.
Farmers are against the three ordinances-- the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, which the Centre had promulgated.
"We followed all guidelines (related to coronavirus). Farmers wore masks and physical distance was also maintained during the protest,” said BKU (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal.
He said farmers took out their tractors and parked them on the side of Samrala-Ludhiana road. There was no disruption of traffic, he added.
BKU (Rajewal) faction also held the protest in a similar fashion.
Onkar Singh general secretary BKU (Rajewal) said the protests were held at several places, including Nabha, Khamano, Faridkot and Ferozepur.
The farmers later submitted memorandums in support of their demands to the authorities concerned in several districts.
Farmers have been expressing apprehension that because of the three ordinances passed by the Centre, the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism and assured marketing system would be disbanded.
"We have fears that the MSP system will be dismantled after a certain time once these ordinances are implemented," said Lakhowal.
The farmers also apprehended that the companies, which had been allowed to procure crop from farmers without paying any tax, would "exploit" growers in the absence of any "foolproof" dispute redressal mechanism.
"The mandi board will also cease to exist which will eventually lead to exploitation of farmers at the hands of big corporates," claimed Onkar Singh of BKU (Rajewal) faction.
The farmers also protested against the rising fuel prices, saying it would lead to an increase in their input cost.
They also opposed the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, stating that it could adversely affect subsidised power or free power to different sections of society.