Rallies in Punjab by Joint Front on ‘Save Farming and Water’

On 29 July, huge rallies and demonstrations were organized in 20 districts in Punjab and memorandums were submitted to the Punjab CM through district magistrates. The districts included Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Patiala, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, NavanShahar, Taran Taaran, Amritsar, Pathankot, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and others. The rallies saw massive participation from the farmers. All India Kisan Sabha, Jamuhri Kisan Sabha, Punjab Kisan Union, Pagdi Sambhal Jatta and several other struggling forces joined the rallies. The first demand of the farmers was that all the demands that have already been accepted by the government be immediately implemented. The agricultural leaders said that both the central and the state government were trying to discourage agriculture and as a result the farmers were being forced to incur huge debts and resort to suicides. First and foremost, the loans of farmers with only about 10 acres of land must be waived irrespective of whether the loans were taken from government or private organizations or individual money lenders. The families of the farmers who had committed suicide should be paid five lakh compensation, the loan be waived and a government job must ensured for a member of the family. They also demanded that the practice of obtaining signatures on blank stamped pronote papers or white papers must be immediately brought to an end. Pro-farmer policies must be formulated for incentivizing farming, making farming debt-free and ensuring food security in the country. The protestors also demanded that land ceiling limit be reduced from 17.5 acres to 10 acres and the additional land be redistributed among the landless farmers. The government must also guarantee procurement of crop yields and the procurement rate must be fixed at least 1.5 times the cost incurred. They also demanded to curb the corruption and monopoly by mill owners who are exploiting the farmers.

The farmers also raised the issue of depleting ground water for agriculture. They demanded that large scale government mechanisms for recharging water bodies must be put in place. Steps must also be taken for creating more canals and ensuring that they reach all agricultural lands. The infiltration of national and foreign corporate in procuring and selling seeds must be brought to an end. The other demands included- A monthly pension of Rs. 5000/- must be paid to elders above the age of 60, stable jobs and free education must be guaranteed for the youth, 24 hours electricity, free electricity connection for farmers having 5 acres of less land, compensation in case of natural calamities and provisions for safeguarding agriculture from stray and wild animals. Cases filed against farmers during movements must also be withdrawn.