In protest against the Centre’s farm bills, farmers in Punjab will organise a three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation starting Thursday.
After being cleared the Lok Sabha, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 were passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. Now they await the President’s nod to become laws.
“We have decided to hold a ‘rail roko’ agitation from September 24 to 26 in the state against the farm bills,” Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher said last week. The state’s farmers, along with farmers of Haryana and Opposition parties across the country, have been in staunch protest against the bills ever since they were slated to be tabled in the Lok Sabha.
Another farmers’ organisation has called for a state-wide ‘bandh’ on September 25.
The protesters worry that the bills will dismantle the current Minimum Support Prince (MSP) system and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates. However, the government claims that the MSP system will continue unchanged and the new bills will result in higher profits for the farmers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also assured the farmers on multiple occasions that the “very historic” bills will benefit them as they will take away the power from the hands of middlemen and give them the freedom to sell their produce where they see more profit.
After the passage of the bills in the Upper House, Opposition leaders including Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien and Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh entered the well of the Rajya Sabha while the session was in progress, demanding that the bills be referred to a select committee.