Under the banner of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan), farmers on Tuesday blocked the roads at various places including national highways and state highways, and launched a six-day 'Pakka Morcha', demanding the withdrawal of three bills that were recently introduced in the Lok Sabha. The protest is also joined by commission agents and mandi workers.
Farmers staged protests outside the residences of former CM Parkash Singh Badal in Muktsar district and at PUDA ground in Chief Minister Captain Amarinder's Singh's home district Patiala reported The Indian Express.
On Monday, the Centre had introduced three farm bills in Lok Sabha – The Farmers' Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill (ECA). Of them, the Essential Commodities Bill 2020 was taken up for a discussion on Tuesday and then passed by a voice vote.
The amendments to these ordinances were announced on June 4 by the Union Cabinet
"MPs who support these farm bills in parliament will not be allowed to enter villages," warned Bhartiya Kisan Union general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal. He called the bills 'worse than coronavirus', keeping in view its negative effects on farmers, merchants etc.
The farmers have blocked over 25 places in the state. About 200 Punjab farmers will be protesting outside the Parliament today.
Why Are Farmers Protesting?
Kiran Kumar Vissa of the Rythu Swarajya Vedika told The News Minute that the particular bill ECA, in its preamble states that it is meant to increase the incomes of the farmers, but in reality, it serves solely agribusiness companies' purpose and boosts their income instead, including Adani-Wilmar and so forth. In fact, people opposing the bills have called it the 'Corporate Food Hoarding Bill,' he added.
According to Kiran, the ECA never placed restrictions on farmers from selling or storing any quantities of food commodities. The restrictions were on the agri-business companies and traders, to prevent hoarding of foodstuffs. With this amendment, the government will have no power to regulate food commodity supply, storage, stock limits, etc., except under extraordinary circumstances, them being if there is a 50 per cent rise in case of non-perishables and 100 per cent rise in the perishable items from the average retail prices in the preceding 12 months or last five years.other circumstance where the government can take a decision could be during a war, famine, skyrocketing price rise or any natural calamity, the media reported.
Kiran further told the media that if the regulations are removed, these giant companies like Adani, Reliance and Walmart will be able to construct multiple processing and storage lines, taking away the bargaining power of farmers, and living with the risk of getting lowest prices for their crops.
"Adani-Wilmar also imports large quantities of food such as oils and pulses from its own units and holdings in other countries. The removal of stock limits makes it much more convenient for them to dominate the market both internally and externally. In addition to their interests in Africa, in 2019-20, Adanis established their Bangladeshi subsidiary which is investing $350 million in setting up a processing industry in their special economic zone. This is a high-stake game by big agri-business companies whose result would be to push small farmers out of agriculture, following the American model", the media quoted Kiran as saying.
According to the Indian Express report, farmers have brought along dry ration, masks and sanitiser for the time they are protesting, up till September 20. BKU general Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said that farmers are well aware of the coronavirus threat, but this should have been taken into consideration by the people in the Parliament. "NDA needs to explain this. They are killing farmers and are threatening to gag our voices in the name of the pandemic," Singh as quoted.
The rally was held between Phagwara-Hoshiarpur sugar mill crossing and Phagwara-Nakodar road crossing, lock grain market in Phagwara. In Hoshiarpur, farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee staged a dharna.