In a first-of-its-kind show of solidarity, 31 farmer organisations in Punjab cut across party lines on Wednesday to announce a joint statewide protest to be held on September 25 against the Farm Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament. The organisations have given a call for complete 'Punjab bandh' as a mark of protest.
A meeting of 31 farmer organisations was held at Moga in which it was decided that the support of any political party will not be taken, farmer leaders said. The farmer organisations also chalked out a strategy for post-September 25 protests.
It was decided that the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee member Jagmohan Singh Patiala will be leading the protest. He said farmers were against the government's 'kala kanoon' or black law that the government was aiming to bring by any means and in any form.
"If the government wants to respect farmers' wishes, withdraw them," he said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an NDA ally, on Tuesday had announced to stage a 'chakka jam' for three hours across Punjab on September 25 to lodge its protest. Senior leaders will lead the protests in their constituencies and district headquarters from 11 am to 1 pm, SAD spokesperson and former minister Daljeet Cheema said.
A SAD delegation earlier this week met President Ram Nath Kovind and urged him to withhold assent to the contentious farm bills. Meanwhile, state-wide protests continued across Punjab on Wednesday with farmers burning the effigies of Central government.
"We will not allow the government to please the corporate houses at the stake of the farmers. These are the worst-ever laws introduced by any government in India so far and it must not exist for a single day," BKU (Rajewal) President Balbir Singh Rajewal told IANS.
Echoing similar sentiments, BKU (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said all 31 farmer organisations have joined hands against the BJP-led NDA government to express their anguish.
"They are not for farm reforms but a death warrant for the farmers," he added.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already termed the Akalis' decision to hold a state-wide 'chakka jam' on September 25, the day when Punjab's farmers had already announced a lockdown against the farm Bills, as yet another brazen attempt by the BJP ally to exploit the sentiments of the farmers.
"Why don't you go to Delhi and do a chakka jam outside the homes of BJP leaders and others who have shamelessly sold off the interests of Punjab's farmers to the big corporate houses for their own petty interests?" the Chief Minister has said, daring the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to quit the Central government if it really cared for the farmers.