India

"Not Being Misled By Opposition": Punjab Farmers Protesting Agri Bills

Rail Roko protest against three new controversial farm bills has been extended till September 29.

Chandigarh:

After a call to intensify protests against the three new controversial farm bills, farmers in Punjab - who have also extended their "Rail Roko" agitation till September 29 - said they are "not being misled by the opposition" and that they have read the fine print.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is blaming the opposition for instigating us. This is not correct. We have read the ordinances (now bills). The corporates have pushed PM Modi to introduce these changes. We are getting support from farmers across the country; this is a very big people's movement. He will have to repeal these bills, he will not be able to pull off these changes on ground," said Sarwan Singh Pandher, State Secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, who translated the bills into Punjabi and distributed it among farmers.

Mr Pandher added that will not allow any political party to share stage with them during these protests.

At least 28 passenger trains have been cancelled as famers in Punjab continued blocking train tracks on day 3 of the "Rail Roko" agitation. However, the Railways is yet to announce a revised schedule.

More than 265 groups affiliated with the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and around 100 non-affiliated groups took part in Friday's nationwide protests seeking complete rollback of Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bil.

Farmers, thousands of whom blocked highways and rail tracks despite the coronavirus pandemic and searing heat as part of Bharat Bandh, have said they will intensify protests as the central government has not reached out to them at all.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told BJP workers to "reach out to the farmers... and inform them in very simplified language about the importance and intricacies of the new farm reforms...". The Prime Minister and his allies have maintained that farmers are being "misled" by opposition parties on the provisions of the farm bills.

While farmers fear that the bills would mean loss of the price support system (MSP) and the entry of private players who will put small and marginal farmers at risk, the BJP-led central government has said the bills will help farmers get better prices by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice.