Govt focussed on polls: Farmer leader Pandher

Chandigarh: Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher on Friday said the government was not paying attention to farmers’ demands as the ruling party’s sole focus was on winning the Lok Sabha elections ahead. The government should give a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and meet other demands of protesting farmers, he added.

“Rather than paying attention to farmers, they are focused on how to win the elections,” Pandher said, asserting that the farmers’ agitation will continue till their demands are met.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading a ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by farmers to press the government to accept their demands.

Pandher said farmer leaders will discuss among themselves and decide on their future course of action.

The march was put on hold for two days after 21-year-old Shubhkaran Singh was killed and around 12 police personnel were injured in clashes at the Khanauri border point on the Punjab-Haryana border on February 21.

Two days later, the farmer leaders said the protesters will continue to camp at Khanauri and Shambhu on Punjab’s border with Haryana till February 29 when the next course of action will be decided. However, farmer unions have so far made no announcement.

Pandher said a meeting to pay tributes to Shubhkaran Singh will be held by the SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha at his village Balloh in Bathinda on March 3. Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will attend it in large numbers, he added.

The farmer leader said “Akhand Path” will begin in Shubhkaran’s native village on Friday.

Earlier on Thursday, Shubhkaran’s body was taken to Balloh for his last rites.

The farmers protesting to press the Centre for their various demands are staying put at the two protest sites on the Punjab-Haryana border.

The farmer leaders had earlier said they would not end their agitation until their demands were met while indicating that their stir may continue even if the model code of conduct comes into force.

The standoff between farmers and the Centre over their various demands continues.

On February 19, farmer leaders taking part in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation rejected the BJP-led Centre’s proposal for procuring pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP by government agencies for five years, saying it was not in favour of the farmers.

In the fourth round of talks with the farmer leaders on February 18, a panel of three Union ministers had proposed that government agencies would buy pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP for five years after entering into an agreement with farmers.

The Punjab farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

Roy Walsh

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