Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has criticised as fake news and “highly irresponsible” media reports that Punjab has already implemented the three new farm laws, over which some farmers have been protesting for nearly two months now.
“Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu’s statement had been mischievously twisted by one newspaper, with others picking it up,” Mr Singh said today.
The Chief Minister, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the farm laws, pointed out that Punjab was the first state that opposed the farm laws and even started the process to amend state bills to negate the “dangerous impact on agriculture” of the new laws.
“The governor should have forwarded our bills to the President for assent, which he has not done,” Mr Singh said.
He also alleged their rival Aam Aadmi Party has been spreading misinformation on the farmers’ protest.
“We will do whatever possible to help the farmers and their families, for whom the state government had already started two helplines on which they could reach out in case of any emergency,” the Chief Minister said. “The farmers have made their stand very clear – that the laws should be repealed. It is the job of the government of India to listen to them.”
Thousands of farmers are dug in on the highway in Delhi-Haryana border. Several rounds of talks with the government have not made much headway. The farmers want assurance that minimum support price (MSP) won’t be removed, apart from complete withdrawal of the new laws that allows farmers to skip any middlemen and sell to anyone, which they say opens the doors to companies to exploit them.
The government has agreed to go through the new laws clause by clause and has assured MSP protection, apart from protection from exploitation by companies. However, the farmers have refused anything less than complete withdrawal of the law.
In the last meeting on January 5, farmer leaders said Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar told them to go to the Supreme Court but there is no way the centre can withdraw the laws. The farmer leaders and ministers will meet next on Friday.
The farmers have threatened to hold a rally on Republic Day, January 26, if their demands are not met.
Last month, the Supreme Court had ordered that a special committee be formed, insisting that the centre’s negotiations have failed. “Your negotiation will again fail as they (the farmers) won’t agree,” said the bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.