It was a virtual show of strength and farm union’s unity on Sunday as thousands of farmers and farm workers gathered in Barnala where the leaders issued a direct challenge to Delhi Police asking it to not turn up in Punjab to arrest those who are being served notices for backing the agitation against the agri laws.
The farm leaders asked farmers to gherao Delhi Police personnel if they come to their villages to make an arrest.
“You need not bother about the notices where Delhi Police is asking you to appear before them and join the inquiry of January 26 episode. Burn the notices. Tear them. We challenge Delhi Police not to enter Punjab regarding these notices. Punjab Police should also not bother our people in connection with notices,” said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president, BKU (Ugrahan).
Referring to the Republic Day violence, Ugrahan said it was done by a group which acted at the behest of the government.
Ugrahan was addressing the “Kisan-Mazdoor Ekta Maha Rally” called by his outfit and and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.
The BKU (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal too asked farmers not to appear before the Delhi Police if they get notices for joining investigation and told them to ‘gherao’ the personnel if they come to make an arrest. Two days ago, Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni had made a similar appeal.
Claiming that the Centre is scared of the farmers’ agitation, Rajewal said, “Those bringing ‘langar’ material or extending help to us are being slapped with notices. Any farmer or labourers who gets the notice should forward a copy to us. No one needs to appear before police”.
Earlier, Ugrahan said that the Centre was trying to project an image that there are differences between the farm unions. “But here we are. We are all together at one platform. We have the strength to lead this struggle, to sacrifice ourselves,” he said. “Brothers may have differences, but when an outsider attacks, they get together to save each other. This fight is for the future of our children. It is a fight of secular people of this country. It is a struggle against government-corporate nexus”.
He further said, “We feel sad even if enemies’ children die. We condole them. (But) more than 200 farmers have died during the agitation but the Government hasn’t spoken a word”.
Addressing the gathering, Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice president of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan), said the government should fulfill its promise of repealing the Contractual Farming Act implemented by the previous SAD-BJP government in 2013.
“Unions have already said that repeal (of the three agri laws) is their only demand. At the same time, the Punjab CM should focus on the repeal of the amendments in the APMC Act, which state government had introduced in 2017. The state government should also focus on cancelling the contracts with private Thermal Power companies and fulfil its promise and waive off the loans of farmers and labourers”.
Earlier, state Congress president Sunil Jakhar had told the The Indian Express, the basic objective behind amendments in the APMC Act was to protect the farmer from being exploited by the corporates.
Jhanda Singh said, “Capt Amarinder Singh has enough time before the 2022 Assembly elections and he should seriously take up the work he needs to do. Otherwise, we have the capability of running two parallel morchas – one against the Centre and one against the state government”.
Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) state general secretary Lachman Singh Sewewala said the Centre’s agri laws will have an adverse impact on employment and livelihood of agricultural labourers.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan also sought release of labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur, lodged in a Karnal jail. Kaur, a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, was arrested for allegedly gheraoing an industrial unit and demanding money from the company in Sonipat on January 12.
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