Resume dialogue with farmers, Punjab CM to Modi


Citing the heightened cross-border threat and increased drone and other terrorist activities by ISI-backed groups, including plans by Khalistani oufits to target certain farmer leaders, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resume dialogue with the agitating farmers and make concerted efforts to resolve their issues.

The Chief Minister has proposed to lead an all-party delegation from Punjab for discussions with the Prime Minister to find a durable and amicable solution to the vexed problem of the prolonged farmer agitation, which is threatening the social fabric of the state and impacting economic activities as well.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Amarinder Singh warned that the powers across the border “may try to play upon the charged emotions of the proud, sincere and hard-working farmers” of Punjab, which has a long and live international border.

“The situation is presently under control, but I fear that provocative statements and conduct of some political parties and the emotional backlash might create law and order problems and also lead to irreversible damage to the hard-earned peace in the state,” said the Chief Minister, underscoring the need for the government of India to address the genuine concerns of the farmers.

The Chief Minister’s letter comes amid rising resentment in Punjab on account of the three Central farm laws, which Amarinder Singh said he had asked to be reviewed even in his earlier letters of June and December 2020.

The latest development comes in the backdrop of increase in drone activity along the villages falling within 5-6 km of Indo-Pak border in Punjab, with consignments of weapons and drugs being delivered into India by Pakistan.

Intelligence reports also suggest that with the Assembly elections in Punjab scheduled early next year, ISI-led Khalistani and Kashmiri terror outfits are planning terrorist actions in the state in the near future.

In his letter, the Chief Minister pointed out that the farmers have been agitating for the past seven months on Delhi-Haryana borders, and also in the state, demanding repeal of the farm laws and their protests have been more or less peaceful so far.

“It is a little unfortunate that the multiple rounds of engagement between the Union ministers and the representatives of farmers’ groups have not proved successful,” he said.

Besides the threat to the state’s socio-economic fabric due to the unrest caused by the farm laws, the day-to-day political activities in line with people’s democratic rights are also adversely affected due to the agitation, though the state government has tried its best to maintain law and order, said the Chief Minister.

Highlighting some other issues and concerns of the farmers, which warrant immediate attention, Amarinder Singh referred to his demi-official letter written to Narendra Modi on September 28, 2020 through which he sought to compensate the farmers for the additional cost of managing crop residues at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy, apart from minimum support price (MSP) as residue burning always remains a no-cost option for them.

Noting that this is extremely important to prevent stubble burning in view of the anticipated third wave of Covid-19, and its adverse impact on the health of people, especially in this region of the country, the Chief Minister said these farmers also need to be categorically reassured about their concerns regarding the provisioning of MSP and continued public procurement of wheat and paddy.

Further, their immediate fears about the hike in prices of fertilisers, especially phosphatic fertilisers, after October 31, 2021 are also required to be addressed, as nearly 60 per cent of DAP consumed in the state would be during November and December for the sowing of wheat, the letter read.