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Farm bills: Congress holds protests across country; party's Delhi unit chief detained

Congress workers raised slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre for bringing the 'anti-farmer' Bills, and also burnt effigies of the Central government.

Published: 21st September 2020 05:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2020 07:10 PM   |  A+A-

Police stand guard as Congress workers protest against farm bills in New Delhi Monday Sept. 21 2020. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Congress Monday held protests across the state against the three crucial Central farm bills, alleging the proposed legislations would "ruin" the farming community.

Congress workers raised slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre for bringing the "anti-farmer" Bills, and also burnt effigies of the Central government.

Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar led the agitation At Bassi Pathana in Fatehgarh Sahib and slammed the NDA government.

"These Bills will ruin farmers," he said, promising that his party would take every step possible to protect the interests of the farming community.

Jakhar also hit out at Punjab's opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal, saying it took a "U-turn" over the issue of the farm Bills after sensing there was anger among farmers against the proposed legislations.

"Earlier, they were trying to mislead farmers by saying that these Bills were in their interest," he said.

Jakhar also said he was happy that all farmer outfits have joined hands to oppose these Bills.

Farmers' outfits have given a call for 'Punjab Bandh' on September 25 in protest against these Bills.

In Hoshiarpur, state minister Sunder Sham Arora dubbed SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal's resignation from the Union cabinet as a "political stunt" and asked why she did not quit the Modi-led government when the corresponding ordinances were brought in.

ALSO READ | Explained: What are the new Agri Bills and why farmers are unhappy

"We are with farmers," he said.

On Sunday, Rajya Sabha passed the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

The bills were passed by Lok Sabha on Thursday.

A third bill is yet to be passed in Rajya Sabha.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday had said that his government would take the BJP and its allies, including the Akalis, to court over the new "unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-farmer" laws of the Central government.

SAD chief Sukhbir Badal had urged the President not to sign the farm Bills and also requested him that they be returned to Parliament for reconsideration.

Farmers in some states including Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against these three Bills.

They have expressed apprehension that the three Bills would pave the way for dismantling the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.

Youth Cong activists stage protest against new farm bills in Jammu

Youth Congress activists on Monday staged a protest demonstration here against the BJP-led central government.

Carrying placards and raising slogans against the Union government, the protesters led by J&K youth Congress president Uday Chib gathered at the Exhibition Ground in the heart of the city.

They also tried to march towards the main road but were stopped and pushed back by police, officials said.

Amid vociferous protest by opposition parties, Rajya Sabha passed the Farmers' and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 on Sunday.

"We have assembled here to register our protest against the black laws which are against over 60 crore farmers of the country. All the 250 farmers associations across the country have opposed the new bills and are either on hunger strike or on protest against the BJP government," Chib told reporters.

ALSO READ | Haryana Congress holds statewide protest against farm bills

Demanding immediate revocation of the new bills, the Congress youth leader claimed that the new legislation would make the farmers slaves of the capitalists in the absence of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Delhi Congress leaders stage protest against farm bills; detained

Delhi Congress leaders and workers marching towards Parliament on Monday to protest against the new farm bills were detained by police.

Amid vociferous protest by opposition parties, Rajya Sabha passed the Farmers' and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 on Sunday.

The protesters led by Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar were marching towards the Parliament building but were stopped and detained by the police on R P Road, the party said.

The police took the protesters to the Mandir Marg police station here, said Delhi Congress leader Parvez Alam.

Protests spill over in Rajasthan too

As many as 247 grain mandis in the state remained closed in protest against the bills, which after being passed in both houses of Parliament will now go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.

A Congress delegation led by the party's state unit president Govind Singh Dotasra submitted a memorandum to the Jaipur district collector.

The memorandum is addressed to Governor Kalraj Mishra.

"The Centre brought the anti-farmer bills in a hurry. The government neither discussed the bills with officials nor any opposition parties. But the Congress party will not allow injustice with the farmers," Dotasra told reporters.

With the passage of the bills, farmers will become labourers and big companies will take over their land and produce.

Hoarding will be encouraged through the new law, he alleged.

"People are fed up with demonetisation and GST and failures of the Center in the last six months. As many as 2.25 crore people lost their jobs due to the COVID-19. Now they (BJP-ruled Centre) are working to suppress the voice of farmers by bringing black laws," the Rajasthan Congress chief claimed.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis).

This, the government says, is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels.

Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under this Act, according to the government.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.

It seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.

Congress leader Harish Chaudhary accused the Centre of deteriorating the condition of farmers and said that under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the party will fight for the farmers.

Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said, "Parties have lost power whenever they attacked farmers. The Centre can get the bills passed in Parliament but cannot win the hearts of farmers."

"It is the responsibility of a government to make sure that no such this is done during a pandemic against which people have to protest," he said.

But, by passing such bills during the pandemic, the Narendra Modi government has made it clear that COVID-19 deaths have "no meaning to it", Khachariyawas alleged, adding that farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have taken to the roads, and the Centre will be responsible if COVID-19 infection spreads.



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