Chandigarh: Less than 24 hours after the talks between the Centre and representatives of farmer unions ended on a stormy note, various farmer outfits in Punjab on Thursday announced to intensify their stir against the recently enacted agriculture laws and declared state-wide protests on October 17. Also Read - Battle Lines Drawn: Amarinder Moves Resolution in Punjab Assembly Against Centre's Farm Laws
The protesting farmers said they would burn effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi across Punjab on Saturday against the disrespect of farmer leaders in Delhi. Also Read - Punjab: AAP MLAs Spend Night in Assembly Premises Over Agriculture Law
Representatives of several farmers’ bodies had on Wednesday walked out of a meeting held in Delhi to discuss the farm laws with the Union agriculture secretary after finding no Union minister in the meeting. Also Read - Schools Reopen in These States From Today; Number of Hours, Students Restricted | Check Guidelines
The farmers also asserted that they would not relax their ‘rail roko’ agitation, adding that their statewide agitation would continue.
We will step up our agitation, Darshan Pal, president, Krantikari Kisan Union said.
The next meeting will be held on October 20, he said.
We have decided that our agitation will continue, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill said.
Besides blocking rail tracks, the farmers have laid siege to toll plazas, fuel pumps, shopping malls of some corporates and staged sit-in outside the residences of several BJP leaders in the state.
On several Union ministers holding virtual rallies in favour of the farm laws in Punjab, Burjgill said they would not allow the ministers to propagate the so-called benefits of the legislations.
If they are not ready to talk to us, we will not allow the BJP leaders to address people here, he said.
Eight Union ministers, including Hardeep Singh Puri, had been deputed to hold virtual rallies over eight days from October 13 onwards to address the apprehensions of farmers in Punjab regarding the farm laws.
Meanwhile, the farmer bodies have decided to withdraw an ultimatum given to the Congress-led state government after the latter announced a special session of the Punjab Assembly on October 19 to bring in a legislation to negate the new farm laws.
Punjab cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who met the farmer leaders here, said the state government would bring in such a Bill in the assembly which cannot be challenged in the Supreme Court.
The farmers’ agitation has disrupted the rail traffic and severely impacted coal supply for thermal power plants in the northern state.
Ten trains were cancelled and 16 short-terminated on Thursday due to the farmers’ agitation, said Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer.
The farmers have been demanding that the three farm laws passed by Parliament recently be repealed. They have expressed apprehension that the new laws will pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.
The Centre, however, has maintained that the new laws will raise farmers’ income, free them from the clutches of middlemen and usher in new technology in farming.
(With inputs from agencies)