M A I N   N E W S

Stop wheat import, say farmers
Threaten stir in Punjab
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Services

Chandigarh, February 7
The decision of the Union Government to import 5 lakh tonnes of wheat has stirred a up a hornet’s nest as not only some political parties but also several organisations of farmers have decided to oppose the import.

“The UPA government at the Centre has once again proved that it is anti-farmer. Besides virtually freezing the minimum support price of foodgrains, it is now timing the import with a bumper wheat crop in Punjab so that the open market price of the commodity crashes to a low,” says Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, state president of the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha.

Five farmers’ organisations of Punjab — the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and the Khetibari Kisan and Vikas Front - have decided to hold a meeting here on February 11 to force the Union Government to reverse its decision on importing wheat.

Though the farmers did not spell out the line of action they would take to oppose the import, the holding of demonstrations, dharnas, “rasta roko” and “rail roko” in different parts of the state as well as in Chandigarh cannot be ruled out.

‘We will not allow any further exploitation of wheat growers of the region in general and Punjab in particular,” declared Mr Bhangu, revealing that other organisations of farmers, too, would be invited to join the agitation for opposing the import.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal President and former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has also condemned the decision to import wheat, saying the order should be withdrawn immediately.

“The decision is ill-timed, ill-conceived and will adversely affect the Indian farmers. The Punjab farmer will be the biggest loser,” said Mr.Badal.

Mr Badal also corroborated the viewpoint of the farmers’ organisations that imported wheat would reach the shores of the country by the end of March or the beginning of April. By that time, the fresh produce would also reach the market.

Flooding the market before your own produce would lead to a crash in the prices of wheat, said Mr Badal, ridiculing the Central Government for its statement that this was being done to control the rising prices of wheat in the southern states.

Mr Badal further said that this reflected the anti-farmer policies of the Congress-led Central Government. He said the demand of farmers for an increase in the MSP of foodgrains was always rejected by the UPA government on the plea that the country had enough foodgrains.

“If foodgrains are surplus, what is the need to import wheat?” asked Mr Badal.

Mr Bhangu also maintained that the policy on importing wheat falsified the government claim of surplus production of foodgrains.


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