Protests across Punjab, Haryana over delay in paddy procurement

Protests across Punjab, Haryana over delay in paddy procurement

Chandigarh, Oct 2 (IANS) Protests erupted across agrarian states Punjab and Haryana on Saturday with the Central government postponing procurement of paddy in both states to October 11 due to the recent heavy rainfall.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha had given a call for holding protests outside the residences of legislators and Members of Parliament in both states.

Farmers put up tents outside the residence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Karnal where paramilitary forces were deployed.

At several places Haryana Police baton-charged and used water cannons on farmers.

In Panchkula, near here, the police baton-charged farmers when they were going to protest outside BJP MLA Gian Chand Gupta's home.

Seeing the statewide anger of the farmers, Khattar along with Agriculture Minister J.P. Dalal rushed to New Delhi to meet Union ministers and seek a solution to end the deadlock amidst the ongoing agitation against the three agricultural laws.

Before leaving for the national capital, Khattar said, "Farmers will not have to face any problem in paddy procurement."

The original procurement date for paddy at the minimum support price (MSP) was October 1 in Punjab. In Haryana, it was officially due to have started on September 25.

At most places, farmers have broken police barricades and are sitting outside the entry-exit gates of the residences of the legislators.

BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, "We had already warned the state government not to delay the paddy procurement. The government must immediately begin the process to avoid any further losses to the farmers. In case the government fails to begin procurement immediately, they should brace for a massive agitation."

Adding fuel to the fire, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said the agitation of farmers is getting violent day by day.

"The violent movement in the country of Mahatma Gandhi won't be allowed. The leaders of farmers should keep patience during the agitation," Vij said in a tweet on Saturday.

The Centre on Friday said delaying the paddy procurement was in the "overall interest of farmers and consumers as well because of the untimely rains, maturity of paddy grains is delayed".

As per the Indian Meteorological Department data, rainfall during September 2021 was 77 per cent and 139 per cent above normal in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, a release from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said.

A day earlier Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and requested him to take back the decision to postpone the paddy procurement by 10 days.

As a protest, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal accompanied a trolley filled with paddy to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) head office here to get the moisture content of the food grain checked.

"It is the Punjab government's responsibility to come to the aid of farmers after postponement of paddy procurement by 10 days by the government of India," said Badal.