Chandigarh, Oct 20 (IANS) Presenting four Bills formulated by his government in the Punjab Assembly to negate the three central farm laws, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday warned of threat to national security peace and asserted that he was prepared to resign or be dismissed rather than bow to “injustice to Punjab’s farmers”.
Speaking in the Assembly on the second and last day of its special session, he warned of possible disruption in the border state’s peace and threat to national security as a result of the central farm laws, pointing out that nobody can tolerate religious hurt and attack on livelihood.
“I am not afraid of resigning. I am not afraid if my government is dismissed. But I will not let the farmers suffer or be ruined,” said the Chief Minister, pointing out that he had chosen to quit in the wake of 1984 Operation Blue Star in Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar “instead of accepting or endorsing the assault on Sikh ethos”.
Cautioning the Centre against allowing the situation to get out of hand, Amarinder Singh said: “If the farm laws are not revoked, angry youths can come out on the streets to join the farmers, leading to chaos. The way things are going on, the situation has the potential to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the state.”
He said that this is what had happened in the 80s and 90s when Sikh militancy had gripped Punjab.
“Both China and Pakistan will collude and try to take advantage of any disruption in the state’s peace, which will pose a serious threat to national security,” he added.
“In the name of farming laws, we have actually enacted trade laws. It is not farmers who will have access to a national market, but traders. Hence, the use of term ‘trade area’ in the so-called farmers legislations is also very telling,” said Amarinder Singh. He dubbed the central government action as “legislation by subterfuge”.
The Chief Minister said that he was uneasy and upset over the situation and wanted to understand the Centre’s decision to what he dubbed “cause such sufferings to the farmers amid the Covid-19 crisis”.
Even as he reiterated his full support to the agitating farmers, who he said were left with no option but to fight to save themselves and their families, Amarinder Singh appealed to them to help out Punjab by ending the ‘Rail Roko’ and road blockades and allow movement of essential commodities.
“We have stood by you; now it is your turn to stand by us,” he appealed to the farmers, adding that the entire House was with them even though the state was going through tough times, with power generation at a precarious low, no fertilisers, and no space in godowns for fresh paddy arrivals.
The state Bills, which are part of the state government’s “multi-pronged approach to safeguard the interest of farmers and identity of Punjab” by countering the disastrous effects of the central farm laws, seek to amend the Civil Procedure Code, apart from The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
After Parliament passed three Bills on these issues, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent, following which the government issued a gazette notification on September 27.
The Chief Minister said the seeds of what the state was harvesting at present were sown in 2015 by the Shanta Kumar Committee, which recommended to “explore the possibility of compensating farmers when prices fall below MSP, instead of physically handling large quantities of grains. This will help bring in rationality in procurement operations and bringing back private sector in competition with State agencies in grain procurement”.