CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal, former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal along with 12 others were detained on Friday as they led a protest march in the national capital to mark the first anniversary of the passage of three farm laws. Observing the one-year anniversary as Black Day, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders demanded an immediate repeal of the laws as well as a leal guarantee ensuring assured procurement on minimum support price for all major crops.
The protest march was taken out from Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib to Parliament. Party workers, who had assembled despite unprecedented restrictions imposed by the Delhi Police, held the march after performing the 'ardas' at the Gurdwara.
The party also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Executive Magistrate. Besides asking for the repeal of the black laws, it demanded a commitment from the Centre that farmers would be consulted before bringing in any legislation affecting their lives.
Earlier in the day, in his address, Sukhbir Badal said that the party would fight relentlessly to ensure the repeal of the three agri laws. He also assured the Punjabis that the laws will be implemented in the state once the SAD-BSP alliance forms the government.
The entire senior leadership of the SAD including Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Balwinder Singh Bhundur and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who spoke on the occasion, condemned the high handedness of the police who prevented them from reaching the national capital. They said some of the party workers had trekked 20 kilometres to reach there.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) State President Jasvir Singh Garhi said their party was committing to ensure the repeal of the three black laws in parliament once a new government was formed at the Centre in 2024.
Sukhbir said the SAD had resigned from the union cabinet and even quit the NDA government in solidarity with farmers. He said the truth was that the three black laws were first introduced in parliament by the erstwhile Dr Manmohan Singh-led Congress government which had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of opposition. “The Congress party in Punjab subsequently even amended the APMC Act to bring in private mandis and the same was promised nationwide in the 2019 party manifesto of the Congress party. He also gave the instance of how chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was part of the seven-member committee of CMs which finalised the three agriculture ordinances.
He said that as far as SAD was concerned, it was the only opposition party that had opposed the three agriculture bills in parliament. He said despite the appeal from the farmers' leaders that political parties should not boycott the proceedings, both the Congress party and AAP chose to stage a walkout.
Badal said the SAD did not need a certificate about being pro-farmer from anyone. "We are the only party which has fought for farmers and their rights. We have ensured free power for agriculture operations, pucca water channels and free canal water to farmers," he said.
He also thanked the Delhi Sikh Management Committee for its efforts in making the protest a grand success despite severe restrictions imposed by the Delhi Police as well as the AAP government. He also condemned Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for adopting double standards on all issues of Punjab including the SYL canal issue and even opposing the running of thermal plants of the State and demanding action against farmers for burning stubble.
Former union minister Harsimrat Badal said that the NDA government will lose not only the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh but also the 2024 national elections if it did not repeal the farm laws.
Traffic snarls at Gurugram-Delhi border
A massive traffic jam at Gurugram-Delhi border blocked the entire expressway as the police have intensified the checks since Thursday night in view of the protest march by the SAD. The police have been stopping any vehicle that is carrying more than two persons on both Gurugram and Delhi sides.
AAP pays homage to martyred farmers
The Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) paid homage to over 650 farmers who were martyred during their protests against three black agricultural laws by taking out candle marches across the state. AAP MLA and Kisan Wing state president Kultar Singh Sandhwa said that the AAP MLAs, Lok Sabha in-charges, district presidents, office-bearers and volunteers observed September 17 as Black Day. He said candle marches were taken out by tying black bands at the district level across Punjab including Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Pathankot, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur.