Chandigarh: Punjab farmers protesting against the three new central farm laws decided to intensify their state-wide stir Tuesday, shifting the focus of their ire to corporates like the “Adanis and Ambanis”, who they say are the real beneficiaries.
During a marathon meeting of the 31 farmer unions that have come together under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in Chandigarh today, it was decided that apart from the ongoing agitations, farmers will now hold their protests at Reliance Fresh stores, Reliance petrol pumps and other ventures run by the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group in Punjab.
Farmers will also start a sit-in protest outside the grain silos run by Adani Agri Logistics Limited in Moga, and will press upon the state government to ask the Adanis to stop the construction of another set of silos in Kotkapura.
“We have also given a call to farmers across the country to not use the Reliance Jio mobile service. We have asked everyone supporting the farmers to boycott Reliance stores and petrol stations,” said Dr Darshan Pal, convener of the AIKSCC.
Ongoing protests to intensify
Pal added that besides the new programme, the ongoing rail roko protest will be intensified on 1 October. “Currently, the rail roko is limited to a few pockets. From 1 October, we will be blocking all rail traffic towards Delhi and Mumbai,” he said.
It was also agreed that gram panchayats would continue to pass resolutions against the new farm laws. “Gram panchayats are the smallest unit of a democracy. And if gram panchayats across Punjab resolve that these farm acts are not in favour of the entire village, it is like people voting against the Acts,” Pal said.
The farmers have also decided to continue with their campaign against the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre. “BJP leaders will not be allowed to enter villages. We will be protesting outside their houses. We have also given a call for their complete social boycott,” said Pal.
Coordination with singers & actors
Farmer bodies also held a meeting with Punjabi singers and actors for better coordination — the artistes, by and large, have been supporting the farmers and mobilising the youth to join in their protest.
“We have formed a 14-member committee — seven representatives of the farmers’ unions and seven Punjabi artistes — to chalk out a coordinated plan for future protests. These artistes have offered to call for the boycott of actor Sunny Deol, who is the BJP MP from Gurdaspur, and other artiste-turned-politicians who are with the BJP,” Pal said.
Amarinder assures support, SAD announces march
Earlier in the day, the farmer bodies held a meeting with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress, who extended his government’s full support to them, and assured them of all possible help to fight the new farm laws, including a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to discuss the way forward.
Amarinder also sought inputs/suggestions from legal experts, including legal representatives of the farmers’ unions, on the next course of action. The CM has directed Advocate General Atul Nanda to collate and consider all such suggestions, which may be received on a specially created email id, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar also promised to fight the laws shoulder-to-shoulder with the farmers, adding that he was ready to quit his party presidency to join the protests without making it a political act.
The Congress had announced Monday that it would start a signature campaign in Punjab against the acts.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal, which broke its decades-old alliance with the BJP over the issue, has announced a farmers’ march to the Punjab governor’s residence in Chandigarh on 1 October.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal will lead the march from the Akal Takht in Amritsar, while his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned from the Narendra Modi cabinet on this issue, will lead the march from Takht Damdama Sahib in Bathinda. Party general secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema will lead the march from the Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib.