This Article is From Nov 04, 2020

Punjab Accuses Centre Of Creating "Economic Blockade-Like" Situation

Punjab MLAs, led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, are protesting against the suspension of good trains amid farmers' agitation against Centre's three new farm laws. The state is now facing an acute shortage of essential goods, including coal.

The protest was shifted from Delhi's Raj Ghat to Jantar Mantar in view of "security reasons".

New Delhi:

The Punjab government has accused the BJP-led central government of step-motherly treatment by trying to create an "economic blockade-like" situation with suspension of goods trains in view of "security concerns" because of farmers' protests against Centre's farm laws.

Punjab is running low on supply of essential goods, including coal, urea fertilizer for sowing crops and gunny bags to store the recent "bumper" harvest - all of which have further angered the state's protesting farmers.

"Soldiers from Punjab guard the country's borders in Siachen, Gurez, Drass, Kargil, Galwan, Daulat Beg Oldi, we can never speak against the nation," Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said attacking the BJP-led central government that has accused opposition parties, especially Congress, of misguiding farmers on the new farm laws.

"The reason we are protesting in Delhi is because of the three laws the centre has passed," said Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who was accompanied by all Punjab ministers and MLAs, including Navjot Singh Sidhu and some from state Opposition parties, at Jantar Mantar.

We wanted to go to Raj Ghat but have come here because Section 144 was imposed, he said.

He further questioned why the Centre was trying to dismantle a system that has worked in Punjab since before the Green Revolution made it and Haryana the country's bread baskets.

"We had the Arhatiya (middlemen) system which was working efficiently. Most of our farmers are small land owners and take money from Arhatiyas if they need it suddenly. Who will help the farmers now? The corporates?" Singh said dismissing centre's claims that the new laws would empower farmers by eliminating the middleman.

Today's protest was called after President Ram Nath Kovind turned down a meeting with Amarinder Singh to discuss the new farm laws that have led to massive protests in Punjab. However, the protests were scaled down after the state assembly unanimously passed new bills to counter the effects of the central laws on October 20.

The state bills are yet to be signed by Governor VP Singh Badnore.

"The Governor hasn't sent the bills to the President. I wanted to apprise him about the situation in Punjab. I hope the President will give his nod to the state bills," Mr Singh said pushing for their passage as the only way out for the state.

"Today, all our power plants have shut down because we have no coal coming in. All the electricity that's there in Punjab is through the central grid. We have shortage of equipment to keep the bumper crop that has been harvested. We have old grain we are not being able to send out of the state. Only 10 per cent of the required fertilizer is available for crops," Mr Singh said, adding that since agriculture is a state subject, his government was well within its rights to make new laws.

We do not want any tussle; only Peaceful protests are going on in Punjab, he added.