Unhappy with the partial farm loan waivers announced by the Punjab government last month, hundreds of farmers staged a State-wide protest on Wednesday by blocking roads, including State and National Highways, for about two hours at over 30 places. The protesters, associated with as many as seven farmers’ unions, accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of backtracking on his poll promise of complete waiver of farmers’ loan in the State.
“Farmers in Punjab are committing suicide and one of the key reasons behind these incidents is debt. We want the State government to announce complete a loan waiver for farmers and farm labourers as promised by them during 2017 Assembly election campaign. What the government has recently announced is only partial waiver, which will not serve the purpose,” said Jagmohan Singh, the general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dakonda). The unions that participated in the protests include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dakonda), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), Punjab Kisan Sangrash Committee (Azad), Kirti Kisan Union, Krantikari Kisan Union and Kisan Sangharsh Committee.
“We are left with no choice but to fight for our cause until our demands are met. We will intensify our protest in the coming days. If complete waiver is not announced, we will stage a dharna outside the State Assembly during the upcoming budget session,” he added. Surjit Singh, the State president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), said that during the Assembly election campaign Mr. Amarinder Singh had promised that all kind of farm loans, whether from banks or commission agents, would be waived. “But now, after coming to power, what the Congress has announced is not the same. The Congress party has gone back on its promise,” he said.
“Today we have gathered to remind the government of its election promise on loan waiver. The Congress should immediately announce complete farm debt waiver or be ready to face agitation,” said Kirti Kisan Union leader Nirbhay Singh. The Punjab government’s farm loan waiver scheme in its first phase envisages waiving loans of marginal farmers, having land up to 2.5 acres with a loan up to 2 lakh. The Hindu