Meeting Between Punjab Farmers’ Union, State Ministers Remains Inconclusive
Farmers throw vegetables on a road during a state-wide protests, at Bagha Purana in Moga district of Punjab (Source: PTI)

Meeting Between Punjab Farmers’ Union, State Ministers Remains Inconclusive

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A meeting between a group of Punjab Cabinet ministers and a farmers' union on Monday remained inconclusive with the peasant body claiming that they did not get concrete assurance from the government on many issues.

Bharatiya Kisan Union's Ekta-Ugrahan president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the state government had invited the union for talks on various issues concerning farmers, including the ongoing peasants' agitation against the Centre's new farm laws.

"We cannot say that meeting failed nor can we say it was successful. It remained inconclusive," he told reporters after the meeting at Punjab Bhavan. The ministerial panel that met farmers comprised Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa.

The farmers' union leaders were led by Ugrahan. About the ongoing farmers' stir, Ugrahan said it would continue until the farmers see what action the state government takes to counter the Centre's new farm laws.

Meanwhile, a two-day special session of the state assembly to enact a law to counter the Centre's farm legislation began on Monday.

Also read: Government Reaches Out To Stakeholders On Farm Bills; Rajnath Singh Meets Farmers, Policy Experts

"We also raised the issue of stubble burning as farmers are penalised even when they do not have any viable solution to the problem," he said.

"We also reminded the government about various promises they had made to the farmers before the polls, he said. We also told the ministers that the Congress government should withdraw the amendments made by the state government in 2017 to the APMC Act," he said, adding on many issues they did not get "any concrete assurance".

Meanwhile, amid the meeting between farmers and the ministerial panel inside Punjab Bhavan, a high drama unfolded at its gate when Shiromani Akali Dal members, who wanted to address the media, were stopped from entering the premises.

SAD lawmakers, including former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Manpreet Singh Ayali, Pawan Kumar Tinu and NK Sharma had reached the venue to address the media after the state Assembly was adjourned for the day. The policemen deployed at the entry gate, however, prevented them from entering the Punjab Bhavan, saying they do not have the permission to allow them in.

Also read: Why Modi’s Laws to Liberalize Farming Worry Farmers

Notably, while media persons were not allowed to enter the Vidhan Sabha because of Covid-19 situation, the Speaker had declared Punjab Bhavan as an extension of the assembly complex to enable them to cover the House proceedings from the TV screens installed there which uploaded live visuals.

"Is this Punjab Bhavan or Congress Bhavan? This is a government building, not a private property or a party office," Majithia shouted at the security personnel at the entry gate upon being denied the entry. "We have come to brief the media on certain important issues concerning the farmers, but they are not allowing us inside."

"Is the state government trying to impose censorship? Why as MLAs we cannot come inside to speak to the media," exclaimed Majithia. "When the ministers can hold a meeting inside, why are we being denied entry," he asked.

Though three SAD MLAs scaled the gate and forced their entry inside, they later came out and the SAD MLAs raised slogans against the state government and sat on a dharna for some time outside the Punjab Bhavan's entry gate.

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