AMID A rise in Covid-19 cases in Punjab, farmer unions have no plans to issue instructions to reduce their strength in protest dharnas. They will continue as usual at more than 100 locations in the state as well at the borders, said farmer union leaders.
Talking to The Indian Express, Harmeet Singh Kadian, president of BKU Kadian said, “Our dharnas will continue as usual. We have ourselves seen the results of Covid tests where one test of a Punjab minister in a government lab was positive and it was negative in a private lab…so how can we trust the testing process? Moreover, more than 290 of our farmers died in morchas, post-mortem reports never said they were Covid-positive…so we are going to continue our dharnas as normal as these farm bills are deadlier than Covid. First of all, I need to question the government over what was the need to introduce these Bills amid Covid period in September if they are so scared of it now.”
A mahapanchayat was also organised by BKU Dakaunda in Abohar Wednesday morning, which was largely attended by farmers of the border region. The response was huge in the grain market of Abohar.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda, said, “This mahapanchayat was under the umbrella of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and our programs will continue as usual. Now the big scare ahead of us is the coming procurement season in which so many new conditions have been introduced by FCI. In addition to this, these farm laws are the only scare before us…Covid cannot kill us, but farm laws will kill our generations together.”
He said, “Political parties are also organising big rallies in Punjab. SAD has already organised two, AAP is organising on March 21 while in poll-bound states huge gatherings are happening on a daily basis by all political parties including BJP. The prime minister himself will also campaign in all poll-bound states. Hence, we fail to understand the scare…They created the same scare when protests at Shaheen Bagh had been organised and the same is being done even now…”
Sarwan Pandher, general secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), said, “Our daily programs are happening in Punjab in different districts apart from the pakka dharna at Kundli border. We are more bothered about farm Bills, we are protesting since June 6, when farm ordinances were tabled in Cabinet, later despite Covid, they were passed in Parliament. These gatherings would not have happened, had the Bills not been passed. Now they are re introducing an electricity Bill as well, which they earlier told us they will not implement. They have issued stringent norms about wheat procurement. And now a scare on us, just because people are not getting themselves vaccinated. They must focus on spreading awareness about vaccination. rather than spreading fear. We never wanted to protest, but the government forced us to protest.”
He further said, “There are so many cancer deaths in India, TB deaths are a cause of worry, HIV, hepatitis are other concerns…but everyone is after Covid. Even the Congress-led Amarinder government is also contributing in spreading the same scare.”
In Punjab dharnas by BKU Ugrahan, KMSC and 32 farmer unions are going on at more than 100 locations and mahapanchayats are also being held occasionally.