Extending the pause on the farm laws from 18 to 24 months could be one possible way out of the impasse as farmers have to return to their fields for the wheat harvest next month, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said here Saturday.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Singh said a protracted standoff has serious security implications given the inflow of weapons into Punjab since the agitation began, an issue that he had flagged to Union Home Minister Amit Shah when they met last December.
The Chief Minister said that while he had not intervened directly in the matter with Central leaders in New Delhi, his “sense” was that an extended period for putting the laws on hold continued to be in active discussions. “…From what I understand is that some of them (farmers) are agreeable to (the laws being on hold for) 18 months but it may go up to 24 months,” Singh said.
He said that the 24 months could be the “compromise” given that some farmers’ groups asked for the hold to be extended to three years.
Another imperative is the impending harvest season. “The wheat crop comes in within a month and the farmers have to be back,” Singh said.
“This agitation doesn’t have very many big farmers. It’s all being run by small farmers who own half an acre, two acres, three acres. These people have to come back to their land.”
On the security fallout, the CM warned that a “lot of weapons” have been coming into Punjab since October. He said he had flagged the drone weapon-drops to Home Minister Shah. “That day we had six or seven drones…The Home Minister said they are looking into it… eventually it is my State which is going to suffer.”
Singh was critical of prolonged arrests of farm leaders or the ongoing action against foreign and Indian activists. “Arresting means provocation…The Government of India should come to grips with the situation and produce a solution. Today they are sitting on ego,” he said.
“Now that little Swedish girl (Greta Thunberg) has made a statement and you want to lock her up. What’s the logic? And these other children (Disha Ravi and others named by the police) who have been picked up in Delhi: usmein kya phayeda hua(what’s the benefit?) Absurd things,” he said. “Forget about India, I think we have cut a sorry figure in the world.”
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