Farmers in Punjab start their protest in opposition to farm Payments

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25.

Farmers from across Punjab have launched their protest against the three Agriculture Bills passed by Parliament, by giving a call for Punjab Bandh.

As many as 31 farmer organisations in the state are participating in the bandh. Since early morning, farmers from all over the state started gathering at designated roads across the state, and stopping the movement of all traffic and requesting traders to keep their shops closed.

The response to the bandh is good as reports from across the state suggest a near lockdown. With the dairy farmers extending support to the farmers in their protest, milk supply to all cities was affected.

In Amritsar, milkmen had supplied milk on Thursday night. In Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh, the movement of industrial goods scheduled for Friday was advanced and highways saw a massive rush of goods carriers leaving the industrial towns between Thursday evening and night.

The protesting farmer organisations have galvanised immense support from farmers and small groups of protesters, with members of each of these 31 organisations laying siege on the main and arterial roads. It is one of the rare occasions when all farmer organisations are protesting in a coordinated manner.

The Punjab Bandh is getting a massive response with patwaris, traders, unions of various state government employees, commission agents, dairy farmers, singers, artistes and all major political parties supporting them.

As anger against the Centre mounts in Punjab, over the passing of the three controversial Bills, especially the Farmer Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, which seeks to simplify the entry of private players in food grain purchase, farmers are all set to intensify their agitation in the coming days. Farmers fear that the government will withdraw from the MSP regime of guaranteed prices for foodgrains.

Even as each of the political parties in the state have offered their help to the protesting farmers, the latter have refused their help. Punjab’s Congress government has decided to declare the entire area of the state, outside the mandis, into principal market yards. This would prevent the implementation of the Central Act in the state.

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