Friday, June 18, 2021

Punjab all-party meet passes resolution on farm laws amid AAP walk-out

Taking serious note of the “substantial delay” by the Centre in resolving the crisis, Punjab’s political parties, on the call of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Tuesday urged the Government of India to redress the grievances of farmers, who have shown exemplary resilience in their continued fight in the most democratic manner, by immediately withdrawing the three Farm Laws.

Condemning the “sponsored violence in Delhi,” the meeting decided that an all-party delegation will go to Delhi to meet Prime Minister and raise the issue, along with other matters of concern on the farmers’ agitation.

The all-party meeting, convened by the Chief Minister to evolve consensus on the issue, demanded an appropriate judicial inquiry to investigate the laxity and complicity of those responsible for maintaining peace and order at the Red Fort. Representatives of all parties appreciated the action and position taken by the Kissan Sangarsh Samiti of 40 Kissan Unions including 32 Kissan Unions from Punjab.

The meeting, which was boycotted by the Bharatiya Janata Party, passed a resolution to this effect, even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) walked out over their demand for deployment of Punjab police to protect the farmers protesting at the Delhi borders, which the Chief Minister again rejected as unconstitutional.

“We talk about more federal powers for the states, then how can we do this?” asked Captain Amarinder as AAP leaders brought up the issue towards the end of the meeting. “What will you do if Himachal Pradesh and Haryana police come to Punjab,” quipped Captain Amarinder.

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Even as Captain Amarinder remarked that “Your (AAP) chief minister in Delhi can request the Union Home Minister to provide security there …we can’t do it as it’s not possible constitutionally,” AAP leaders walked out of the meeting. The Chief Minister, however, stressed the need to fight the battle, which was led by Punjab but had not become a fight of the nation, Constitutionally.

Terming the agitation so far as “historic and unparalleled”, though some miscreants tried to sabotage it through untoward incidents at the Red Fort on Republic Day, the Resolution meanwhile said these acts “are truly condemnable and need to be probed thoroughly.” However, these should not be the reason to victimize the agitating farmers, farm workers, and others including the media persons, said the resolution, calling upon the Government of India “to take steps to ensure that the farmers and farm workers participating in the agitation are not victimized in any manner.”

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Through the resolution, the Punjab parties urged the Central Government “to withdraw all cases registered against the farmers, farmworkers, and journalists, and other peaceful agitators, and release all those detained by the police or any other agencies.” The missing agitators should also be traced and restored to their respective families without any delay, they said.

Realising the urgent need to ensure socio-economic security and safety of the farmers and farm workers who are apprehending threat to their livelihood as a result of these laws, the parties sought immediate resolution of the crisis by the Government of India “through dialogue in keeping with the principles of cooperative federalism, respecting the constitutional role of the States and the people as enshrined in the Constitution of India.” They asserted that “we are determined to save and protect the interests of all farmers, farm labourers and the State of Punjab.”

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The resolution also called upon the Centre “to make the Minimum Support Price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers, and continue with the procurement of foodgrains by the Government of India through FCI and other such agencies as at present,” adding that “the procurement by Arthiyas may also continue as earlier.”

Noting that, as a result of the undue delay by the central government in resolving the crisis, “not only the peaceful agitators and their families are suffering but several farmers and farm workers have lost their lives causing irreparable damage to them and anguish amongst the people of the country,” the resolution demanded withdrawal of the new Environment Protection (Amendment) Act, 2020, while urging the Centre to drop the proposal to enact the proposed new Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The resolution lauded Rakesh Tikait for his contribution to the struggle, and also thanked Haryana farmers for their support to Punjab’s farmers in the agitation.

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