Punjab CM urges farmers to defer agitation


Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday appealed to farmers to postpone their agitation against Union government ordinances due to the curbs imposed to check the coronavirus spread in the state.

The CM’s reaction came amid reports that several farmer unions have decided to go ahead with their protest on July 20 despite the restrictions in place.

The BKU (Rajewal) and the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) had earlier announced to hold a statewide protest against the Union government legislations related to the agriculture sector and fuel prices.

The Centre had recently introduced the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, which is being opposed by them.

The chief minister in an official statement urged them not to take a confrontationist approach in the current circumstances, given that Section 144 of the CrPC is in place and all gatherings barred in the state.

Restraint is the need of the hour, he said, calling upon the farmer unions to help the state government in checking the spread of coronavirus in the interest of Punjab and its people.

Though the issue of the farm ordinances is vital to the state’s interests, any physical protest at the moment will harm Punjab, said Singh.

He advised the farmer bodies to use social media to express their anger and garner support against the ordinances, which according to him, are against the federal character of the nation.

On July 13, the state government had issued revised coronavirus guidelines, disallowing public gatherings due to a spike in infection cases.

Meanwhile, the chief minister urged political parties not to hold any gathering in view of the pandemic.

These are tough times with infection cases rising across India, Singh said in a letter to all political parties, urging them to rise above politics and strengthen his government’s efforts to save lives and protect future generations.

Politics and protests of any kind can wait, but coronavirus won’t, the chief minister said, adding that it is a collective battle.

The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday had announced to postpone all the political programmes of the party for next 15 days keeping in view the coronavirus situation.